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Medical research: Screening epilepsy drugs with zebrafish

Nature Communications

September 4, 2013

The chemical compound clemizole is effective in blocking epilepsy-like seizures in a zebrafish model of Dravet syndrome. This finding, reported in Nature Communications, provides validation for a new approach that could be used to identify alternative therapies for epilepsy disorders.

Dravet syndrome is a severe form of epilepsy that begins in infancy and is characterised by severe, spontaneous and recurrent seizures, which are inadequately managed using available antiepileptic drugs. Mutations in a specific voltage-gated sodium channel (SCN1A) have been shown to be a main causal factor for the syndrome. Scott Baraban and colleagues perform a screen of compounds from a library of US Food and Drug Administration-approved drugs, and find that the compound clemizole inhibits spontaneous convulsive behaviours and electrographic seizures in zebrafish with Dravet syndrome-like SCN1A mutations. As SCN1A in zebrafish is known to share the majority of functions and feature with the human variant, zebrafish are thought to be a useful model in which this syndrome can be studied.

Further studies will be needed to determine if this compound will be effective in treating human conditions, but the authors hope that approaches similar to that used in this study will identify other compounds that could be used to treat Dravet syndrome and other disorders.

doi: 10.1038/ncomms3410

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