A Cancer Drug May Be Able To Treat Drug Resistant Seizures

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A drug commonly used to treat cancer might offer an effective means of fighting cases of epilepsy that are otherwise resistant to medicine, according to a new study from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center published in Annals of Neurology on September 10th.

Most forms of epilepsy are able to be controlled and managed with the use of medication, but some patients develop refractory epilepsy, which means that the condition is has become resistant to medicine and conventional drugs are no longer a viable therapy option, as Epilepsy Research UK explains.

But, everolimus, a drug used to treat renal cell cancer and as an immunosuppressant to prevent organ transplants from being rejects, might be able to help a significant portion of those with refractory epilepsy.

The hospital’s Division of Child Neurology, led by Dr. Darcy Krueger, studied the efficacy of everolimus in patients who had developed refractory epilepsy as a result of tuberous sclerosis complex – a rare genetic disorder characterized by non-cancerous tumours which grow all over the body.

The researchers administered a daily dose of everolimus to 20 patients between the ages of two and 21 for 12 weeks. The patients were asked to report how the length and frequency of their seizures were affected. By the end of the study, 12 patients saw their seizure frequency drop by 50 percent or more, while three participants reported a decline between 25 and 50 percent. The last five participants saw no change.

Twenty percent of the participants were experiencing a complete stop of seizures by the end of the study, while 35 percent experienced a reduction of at least 90 percent.

The length of seizures was also affected by everolimus. The median duration fell by 70 percent.

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