New developments in the treatment of epilepsy

Epilepsy is one of the most common neurological disorders in the world. As such, it is essential for specialists to keep up to date on the latest scientific advances in this field, such as the latest developments in diagnosis, pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatments, and clinical and epidemiological aspects. This ensures that patients will receive the best possible treatment.

Excellent results in epilepsy research

This is the objective of the ARC on Epilepsy 2017 (Annual Review of Congresses on Epilepsy), a leading medical event that enables specialists to find out about the most significant developments in the disorder, both in terms of medicines and treatment technology and techniques.

One of the highlights of the event was a presentation of the excellent results being yielding by the drug perampanel, which has a mechanism of action that differs from all previous drugs. This drug acts on the glutamatergic synapse, which is a crucial route for neuronal excitation and transmission of excitatory stimuli. Glytamatergic mechanisms of action are involved in epilepsy.

Epileptic seizures occur as a result of an imbalance between excitatory and inhibitory mechanisms. These mechanisms regulate communication processes between neurons. Glutamate is one of the most important neurotransmitters for producing excitation and, up until now, acting on it was impossible. This drug is able to adequately modify the glutamatergic synapse in the seizure initiation phase, preventing its generation and propagation.

Several studies involving patients with different profiles and highly diverse circumstances have demonstrated the effectiveness and safety of the drug:

  • One in three patients with partial seizures saw a reduction in episodes by more than a half in one year and 7% have not suffered any seizures since their last visit.
  • Improvement in all types of partial seizure, both simple and complex.
  • Improved sleep quality.
  • Improved quality of life for epilepsy patients.
  • Reduced forgetfulness.
  • Improved adherence.
  • No negative interactions with other drugs

A new drug with excellent results

Together with these pharmacological advances, there have also been new developments in diagnostic techniques. Thanks to technology, specialists now have more and better equipment to help them provide quicker diagnoses. Or treat epilepsy more effectively. One such example is the research being carried out by doctors and engineers from the Polytechnic University of Valencia (UPV), La Fe Hospital in Valencia and the medical group Eresa to develop an innovative diagnostic technique: Functional MRI-EEG.

This technique enables the detection of malformations that trigger epilepsy located in deep areas of the brain. These malformations, despite their microscopic size, are now discernible thanks to this technique. Using this technology, photographs are taken of the affected areas. These images serve as a guide for surgeons to enable them to operate with greater precision.

The same is occurring with advances in neuroscience. Research carried out by Yale University has managed to display the density of brain neuron connections. Knowing this density enables improvements in the diagnosis of epilepsy. And also helps to provide a better understanding of other disorders such as Alzheimer’s, autism and schizophrenia.

All of these advances, both in terms of medicines and techniques and technologies, serve to improve epilepsy treatment and help patients have a better quality of life.

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