Novel Anti-Epilepsy Drug to Begin Clinical Trials
MADISON - A sugar-like substance used for years in medical imaging is about to be tested in clinical trials to see if it can protect people who suffer from frequent epileptic seizures.
The compound, known as 2-deoxy-D-glucose or 2DG, seems to trick the body into believing there is no sugar available, thus mimicking the effect of a ketogenic or no-sugar diet in reducing seizures. Clinical trials on epilepsy patients are expected to begin in 2010 at the University of Virginia.
Wisconsin neurology researchers Drs. Avtar Roopra, Thomas Sutula and Carl Stafstrom reported the novel anticonvulsant and disease-modifying effects of 2DG on animals with a type of epilepsy in the journal Nature Neuroscience in 2006. "It's very gratifying to see this discovery go from the lab to being tested in patients,'' said Sutula, Detling professor and chair of neurology.
The hope is that 2DG can be used to treat the 30 percent of patients whose seizures aren't controlled by current drugs. Epilepsy, the third most common neurological disorder after Alzheimer's disease and stroke, affects 50 million people worldwide, including three million in the United States. By blocking the metabolism of sugar, 2DG suppresses excitability in the brain leading to seizures, and also favorably modifies expression of neural genes.
"Not only does 2DG have anticonvulsant effects, it is very unique in that it can be given with increased effectiveness right after a seizure," Sutula said.
The Wisconsin researchers patented 2DG for its use against epilepsy in collaboration with the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, forming the Madison company NeuroGenomeX, Inc. The trial is being funded by the Epilepsy Research Foundation, the Epilepsy Therapy Development Project, and through efforts of Neurogenomex and WARF. Dr. Nathan Fountain, head of the F.E. Dreifuss Comprehensive Epilepsy program at the University of Virginia, is expected to begin recruiting patients for the trial in early 2010.
Date Published: 12/28/2009