The drug retigabine (trade name: Trobalt® ) was approved in March 2011 as add-on therapy for adults with epileptic seizures. In an early benefit assessment pursuant to the "Act on the Reform of the Market for Medicinal Products" (AMNOG), the German Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG) examined whether retigabine offers an added benefit compared with the present standard therapy. However, no such added benefit can be inferred from the dossier, as the drug manufacturer deviated from the specifications of the Federal Joint Committee (G-BA) and chose a different comparator therapy. G-BA specifies lamotrigine or topiramate as comparator therapy Epileptic seizures are referred to as partial (or focal) seizures if they only affect a small part of the brain, and muscle twitching and cramps are restricted to single regions of the body.
Epilepsy medications designed to control the disease and prevent seizures do not work effectively for approximately 25% of patients suffering from the disorder. Although surgery is the best solution for some patients, the procedure involves a craniotomy, in which the patients skull is opened, in order to remove the brain lesion causing epilepsy. Mark S. Quigg, M.D., a neurologist at the University of Virginia School of Medicine, is helping lead an international clinical trial in order to find out if Gamma Knife radiosurgery (a noninvasive procedure), could effectively treat individuals with mesial temporal lobe epilepsy - a certain type of the epilepsy. Guided by MRI, the Gamma Knife transmits focused beams of radiation to the brain lesion in hopes of impairing the lesion and inhibiting it it from causing epileptic seizures.
Scientists from Seattle Children's Research Institute and the University of Washington, in collaboration with the Genomic Disorders Group Nijmegen in the Netherlands, have identified two new genes that cause Baraitser-Winter syndrome, a rare brain malformation that is characterized by droopy eyelids and intellectual disabilities. "This new discovery brings the total number of genes identified with this type of brain defect to eight, " said William Dobyns, MD, a geneticist at Seattle Children's Research Institute. Identification of the additional genes associated with the syndrome make it possible for researchers to learn more about brain development. The study, "De novo mutations in the actin genes ACTB and ACTG1 cause Baraitser-Winter syndrome, " was published online in Nature Genetics.
A revealing study published in Epilepsy & Behavior provides evidence that the perception of epilepsy is not faring well in social media. Kate McNeil and colleagues from Dalhousie University in Canada analyzed data collected from Twitter to provide a snapshot of how epilepsy is portrayed within the twitter community. Twitter, a social networking platform launched in 2006, allows its users to communicate through posting of "tweets" limited to 140 characters. Twitter has gained worldwide popularity since its inception, with approximately 110 million tweets per day from 200 million users worldwide counted in January 2011. Twitter's role in a number of revolutions, including the 2011 Egyptian revolution and the 2010-2011 Tunisian protest, has confirmed its ability to influence culture and perceptions on a global scale.
A team led by a University of British Columbia professor has developed a new class of drugs that completely suppress absence seizures - a brief, sudden loss of consciousness - in rats, and which are now being tested in humans. Absence seizures, also known as "petit mal seizures, " are a symptom of epilepsy, most commonly experienced by children. During such episodes, the person looks awake but dazed. The seizures, arising from a flurry of high-frequency signals put out by the neurons of the thalamus, can be dangerous if they occur while a person is swimming or driving, and can also interrupt learning. Available medications don't completely control such seizures in many patients. They also cause severe side effects, including sleepiness, blurred vision and diminished motor control.