New Antiepileptic Drug Candidate Discovered
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Researchers at Elli Lilly and Co., in Indiana, have discovered a new compound that specifically targets neural circuits involved in epilepsy and could potentially be developed into an antiepileptic drug (AED). The findings are published in the leading scientific journal, Nature Medicine.
The compound, known as CERC-611, selectively blocks a protein associated with a receptor called AMPA found in the forebrain, an area involved in the generation of focal seizures. As the AMPA-associated protein is absent in most other parts of the brain, it is thought that blocking it will not cause side effects such as dizziness, lack of muscle coordination and falling (which are seen with other drugs that block the AMPA receptor directly).
Dr Michael Rogawski, a professor of neurology and pharmacology at the University of California, said:”Targeting these receptors may lead to improved antiseizure efficacy, safety and tolerability, and make a significant impact on treatment outcomes. No prior epilepsy treatment targets a subset of brain receptors involved in seizure generation in a regionally-selective fashion.”
The researchers tested the specificity of the compound in brain tissue obtained form an epilepsy patient. They then tested it in rodent models of epilepsy and found that it prevented multiple seizures without causing motor side effects.
Dr Uli Hacksell, CEO of Cerecor, the company that is developing the potential drug said: “We believe CERC-611 has the potential to provide a true advancement in epilepsy therapy.”
The company hopes to file an investigational new drug application with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and start a phase one clinical trial to test the compound, in 2017.
Author: Dr Özge Özkaya
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