Study suggests Verapamil could be used to fight refractory epilepsies

Researchers have suggested that calcium channel blocker Verapamil could be effective as an add-on treatment for children whose epilepsies do not respond to conventional therapies.

The drug, which affects the way calcium is absorbed in certain cells, is commonly used to fight high blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythms and angina. A number of past reports have indicated that it could also help to reduce seizure frequency in epilepsy patients.

In the more recent study, a team at the Child Neurology Division of the Department of Pediatrics, Umberto I Hospital, Sapienza University of Rome, administered Verapamil to seven children with refractory epilepsies as an adjunctive treatment to baseline antiepileptic drugs.

They were followed up at three, eight and 14 months, and the frequencies of their seizures were recorded.

Three subjects – all of whom had genetically determined Dravet syndrome – had their seizures partially halted by the treatment, posting reductions of 50 to 99 per cent. A fourth patient with Dravet syndrome showed some degree of seizure control for 13 months before relapsing.

Finally, two patients with structural epilepsy and one with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome showed no improvement to their symptoms.

The researchers concluded that Verapamil “seems to have some effect” as an add-on treatment.

“Our observations justify further research on the relationship between calcium channels, calcium channel blockers, and channelopathies,” they concluded.

Posted by Steve Long

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