Researchers from Linkoping University have developed new molecules that could have the potential to be used as drugs that help with epilepsy. A recent study that was published in Epilepsia shows that some of the molecules could have antiseizure effects.
Nerve cells in the brains of people with epilepsy are overactive, and this can cause seizures to occur. The nerve impulses are electrical signals that travel along the nerves. When there are too many electrical signals occurring in the ion channels, it can cause seizures.
Epilepsy affects a large number of people around the world, and there is currently not a cure. Those who have epilepsy will often take medications that can help them to get better control over the condition. Many of the drugs on the market focus on affecting the ion channels.
However, medicines are not always effective for everyone. About 33% of epileptics are not helped by current medications on the market. With the promise of more research and new medicines, though, it can provide some additional help for those in need.
How Do The Resin Acid Molecules Help Patients With Epilepsy?
In the new study, the researchers looked into an ion channel that affects how often the nerve impulse is accelerated. This is the potassium ion channel, known as hKV7.2/7.3, and it is thought to play a major role in epilepsy. If this channel is closed, it will allow a seizure to occur. If it is open, the seizure can be stopped. One of the drugs that have been used to treat this ion channel is retigabine. It was found to be useful in helping people who had severe epilepsy. However, it is not without its problems since it also affects other ion channels. This created unwanted side effects including low blood pressure and problems urinating. Because of these issues, it is no longer used.
The new study found that several new resin acid molecules could open the aforementioned ion channel. During the research, they wanted to see if the use of the resins would also affect other ion channels like retigabine did and if it caused the same unwanted effects. The experiments that were conducted on rats showed that there were fewer negative effects and it was less likely that they would cause issues with the bladder and blood vessels. This was because the resin acids are using different means to affect the ion channels. The researchers determined that it was this difference in mechanism that helped to reduce the negative effects associated with retigabine.
Nina Ottosson, the principal research engineer in the Department of Biomedical and Clinical Sciences at Linkoping University said that she believed “the mechanism for how our molecules act on ion channels can be extremely important. We hope that through future collaborations we can take our molecules along the complete pathway to a drug in clinical use.”
What Will The Future Hold?
Currently, the researchers are trying to get a better understanding of how the ion channels are affected by the resin acid molecules. They know that having more research in the field is important, as there are still many patients that are not having success with other forms of epilepsy medication that are available to them. They understand that it will take a lot of time and work to take their research all the way to a new drug, but they also know how important it is. They hope that the research they have already done will help to encourage other work done in the field on this subject.