Drug study first effort to prevent onset of epilepsy in tuberous sclerosis complex

October 18, 2016
Drug study first effort to prevent onset of epilepsy in tuberous sclerosis complex
Credit: University of Alabama at Birmingham

Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham have launched the first drug study aimed at preventing or delaying the onset of epilepsy in children with a genetic condition known as tuberous sclerosis complex. UAB is the lead institution and data center for the PREVeNT study, a national, multisite study funded by a $7 million grant from the National Institutes of Health.

Tuberous sclerosis complex is a genetic disorder that causes tumors to form in many different organs. TSC particularly affects neurologic functions, often leading to , developmental delay, intellectual disability and autism. About 80 percent of children with TSC develop epilepsy within the first three years of life.

"There is a small window, perhaps two to three months in duration, between the first detectable signs of abnormal brain activity and the onset of seizures in infants with TSC," said Martina Bebin, M.D., professor in the Department of Neurology in the UAB School of Medicine and the study's primary investigator. "Those detectable signs can be discovered through electroencephalography, or EEG, before any symptoms are present. This window gives us an opportunity for preventive therapeutic intervention to delay or prevent the onset of seizures."

Previous studies by Bebin's research team identified EEG biomarkers of abnormal brain activity in infants with TSC. These biomarkers typically are detectable within the first four to six months of the infant's life, and predate the onset of seizures by two to three months.

Using EEG, the new study will look for the presence of the biomarkers to determine when abnormal brain activity begins, and then launch a drug intervention during the window between the first signs of abnormal brain activity and before seizure onset. The researchers are hoping to determine whether will have a positive effect on developmental outcomes and delay or prevent the onset of seizures.

The study will recruit 80 infants with TSC at seven sites nationally. EEG monitoring will begin as early as six weeks of age, followed by serial EEG testing during the first 12 months of life. At the first sign of abnormal brain activity, half the infants will receive vigabatrin, a medication used to control infantile spasms, while the other half receive placebo. At the onset of clinical seizures, all of the children will transition to the standard of care for infants with TSC and seizures. The investigators will follow the children for three years to monitor developmental progress and the onset and severity of seizures.

"The aim of the study is to determine the impact of a preventive treatment with vigabatrin on the developmental outcome of children at 2 years of age," Bebin said. "Traditionally, most children with TSC don't see a neurologist until seizures begin. We want to examine the effects of early intervention, prior to the onset of seizures. If the intervention is successful, it could have a significant impact on clinical practice."

Bebin says a better understanding of brain activity prior to the onset of seizures could lead to changes in how with TSC are monitored and when medical intervention should commence.

Explore further: Study finds EEG biomarker to predict seizure onset in tuberous sclerosis patients

More information: The study will begin recruiting subjects in fall 2016. Those interested in participating should contact the PREVeNT study at prevent@uabmc.edu

Related Stories

Study finds EEG biomarker to predict seizure onset in tuberous sclerosis patients

November 3, 2015
A multicenter study led by the University of Alabama at Birmingham has found a biomarker identified via electroencephalography, or EEG, that is 100 percent predictive for seizures in infants with tuberous sclerosis complex. ...

Should video monitors be used to detect night-time seizures in patients with epilepsy?

October 4, 2016
Following a sudden death at a residential care unit, the Dutch Health and Care Inspectorate advised to intensify the use of video monitoring at the unit. Researchers now report that such video monitoring can help detect seizures ...

Briviact approved for epileptic seizures

February 19, 2016
(HealthDay)—Briviact (brivaracetam) has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat partial onset seizures in people aged 16 and older with epilepsy.

Treatments available for drug-resistant epilepsy

August 22, 2016
One in 26 people will develop epilepsy – a chronic disease characterized by unpredictable seizures—in their lifetime.

Cognitive impairment seen in preschool children with epilepsy

June 2, 2011
A recent study has shown that cognitive impairment is evident early on in preschool children with epilepsy, consistent with results of similar studies in older children. Age of onset of first seizure is a significant predictor ...

Genes influence sleep/wake timing of seizures in people with epilepsy

March 7, 2016
New research from the Epilepsy Phenome/Genome Project shows that genetics plays a role in sleep/wake timing of seizures. Researchers studied 1,395 individuals with epilepsy in families containing multiple people with epilepsy ...

Recommended for you

Brain training can improve our understanding of speech in noisy places

October 19, 2017
For many people with hearing challenges, trying to follow a conversation in a crowded restaurant or other noisy venue is a major struggle, even with hearing aids. Now researchers reporting in Current Biology on October 19th ...

Investigating the most common genetic contributor to Parkinson's disease

October 19, 2017
LRRK2 gene mutations are the most common genetic cause of Parkinson's disease (PD), but the normal physiological role of this gene in the brain remains unclear. In a paper published in Neuron, Brigham and Women's Hospital ...

Brain takes seconds to switch modes during tasks

October 19, 2017
The brain rapidly switches between operational modes in response to tasks and what is replayed can predict how well a task will be completed, according to a new UCL study in rats.

Researchers find shifting relationship between flexibility, modularity in the brain

October 19, 2017
A new study by Rice University researchers takes a step toward what they see as key to the advance of neuroscience: a better understanding of the relationship between the brain's flexibility and its modularity.

New procedure enables cultivation of human brain sections in the petri dish

October 19, 2017
Researchers at the University of Tübingen have become the first to keep human brain tissue alive outside the body for several weeks. The researchers, headed by Dr. Niklas Schwarz, Dr. Henner Koch and Dr. Thomas Wuttke at ...

Want to control your dreams? Here's how

October 19, 2017
New research at the University of Adelaide has found that a specific combination of techniques will increase people's chances of having lucid dreams, in which the dreamer is aware they're dreaming while it's still happening ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.