Anticonvulsant epilepsy drug holds promise as Alzheimer’s disease treatment
Posted: 7 May 2015 | Victoria White
University of British Columbia researchers have reported that a new anticonvulsant epilepsy drug holds promise as a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease…
University of British Columbia researchers have reported that a new epilepsy drug holds promise as a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.
Their findings reinforce the theory that brain hyperexcitability plays an important role in Alzheimer’s disease, and that anticonvulsant drugs — drugs that prevent or reduce the severity of seizures — represent a promising treatment that deserve further human studies.
In previous studies, several groups have tested the effects of the widely used anticonvulsant drug levetiracetam in both rodent models as well as two clinical trials in patients with early signs of Alzheimer’s disease. The findings suggest it may slow some of the symptoms of the disease, including memory loss.
Anticonvulsant drug brivaracetam completely reversed memory loss in a rodent model of Alzheimer’s disease
In this newest research, Dr Haakon Nygaard, the Fipke Professor in Alzheimer’s Research in UBC’s Faculty of Medicine, tested the effects of brivaracetam, an anticonvulsant drug still in clinical development for epilepsy, and closely related to levetiracetam. Since it is 10 times more potent than levetiracetam, it can be used at lower dosages. Nygaard and his colleagues found that it completely reversed memory loss in a rodent model of Alzheimer’s disease.
While the drug appears effective, the researchers are unclear how it works to reverse memory loss. Nygaard also points out that the current study represents very preliminary data with respect to treating patients with Alzheimer’s disease.
Larger clinical studies needed before determining if anticonvulsant therapy will be a future Alzheimer’s disease therapy
“Now we have many different research groups using antiepileptic drugs that engage the same target, and all point to a therapeutic effect in both Alzheimer’s disease models, and patients with the disease,” said Nygaard, a researcher with the Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health. “Both of these drugs are likely to be tested in larger clinical trials in Alzheimer’s disease over the next five to 10 years.”
“Larger clinical studies in human subjects will be needed before we can determine whether anticonvulsant therapy will be part of our future therapeutic arsenal against Alzheimer’s.”
The findings are published in Alzheimer’s Research & Therapy.