Israeli researchers working with an international team have discovered that a common blood pressure medication can prevent epilepsy from developing after a traumatic brain injury.
The discovery is described in an article published in the current issue of the Annals of Neurology.
Physiology and Neurobiology Professor Alon Friedman works at the Zlotowski Center for Neuroscience at Ben Gurion University of the Negev in southern Israel. He worked with Daniela Kaufer, UC Berkeley Associate Professor of Integrative Biology at the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute and Uwe Heinemann of Charite-University Medicine in Germany on the 10-year study.
In 60 percent of the experimental rats tested, the medication – losartan (Cozaar) – prevented the development of seizures following injury in which 100 percent of controls developed seizures. Of the 40 percent that did develop seizures, the researchers said the rats averaged only one quarter of the number of seizures typical for untreated subjects.
Medication administered for three weeks following injury was sufficient to prevent most cases of epilepsy in normal subjects in the subsequent months, the researchers said.
“This is the first-ever approach in which epilepsy development is stopped,” Friedman explained, “as opposed to common drugs that try to prevent seizures once epilepsy develops… so we are excited about the new approach.”
The researcher added that the study provided a new way to potentially prevent epilepsy in patients after brain injuries occurred, and once they had already developed an abnormal blood-brain barrier. The best news, he said, is that the drug stops the epilepsy from starting, rather than simply suppresses the symptoms.