Scientists reveal how valproate stops seizures
New research published today reveals how valproate, one of the world’s most widely prescribed treatments for epilepsy, affects brain chemistry in such a way that stops seizures.
Though valproate has been used to treat epilepsy since 1963, it was discovered by accident and the drug’s mechanism of action has never previously been understood.
Now, though, scientists at Royal Holloway, University of London have succeeded in modelling valproate’s effect on the brain in a single-celled organism.
They believe this information could be used to develop new treatments that mimic the drug, but without its harmful side-effects.
Notably, past studies have established that valproate causes damage to unborn children when administered to pregnant women with epilepsy, leading to declining prescriptions among this demographic.
Professor Matthew Walker, of University College London’s Institute of Neurology, commented: “Sodium valproate is one of the most effective antiepileptic drugs in many people with epilepsy, but its use has been limited by side-effects.
“Understanding valproate’s mechanism of action is a first step to developing even more effective drugs,” he added.