Hebrew University student developing drug to treat epilepsy, migraines, chronic pain

June 06, 2002

Jerusalem, June 6 - Nina Isoherranen, a Ph.D. candidate at the Hebrew University School of Pharmacy, was awarded a Kaye Innovation Award this week for developing a new medication to treat epilepsy, migraine headaches, and chronic pain that does not cause birth defects in animal models, unlike other medicines currently used to treat epilepsy.

Ms. Isoherranen explained that 1% of the population suffers from epilepsy, a central nervous system (CNS) disorder that can cause violent seizures. As a result, people suffering from epilepsy take medication throughout their entire life to prevent seizures. Though several medicines have been developed to treat epilepsy, they are not effective on more than 30% of epilepsy patients and cause side effects.

David H. Eisenberg Professor of Pharmacy Meir Bialer, who is supervising Ms. Isoherranen's work together with Pharmaceutical Chemistry Prof. Boris Yagen, said that they hope to sign a contract with a pharmaceutical company that will allow them to begin clinical trials on the new medication in the next few years. So far the medication has been successfully tested on laboratory animals.

Ms. Isoherranen, Prof. Bialer, and Prof. Yagen, whose areas of expertise include developing antiepileptic and CNS drugs, spent the past four years working on developing an antiepileptic drug that would be more effective and not cause the side effects common to existing antiepileptic drugs.

Ms. Isoherranen explained that valproic acid is one of the most common medicines used to treat epilepsy and is also popular for treating migraine headaches, chronic pain, and manic depression. However, if a woman takes valproic acid while she is pregnant, it increases the chance of a birth defect by 2.5. It also can cause liver problems and weight gain.

Ms. Isoherranen combined valproic acid with taurine, a substance found in the brain that helps to control epilepsy. The end product is more potent than valproic acid and apparently lacks the major side effects, she said.

At 27, Ms. Isoherranen is the youngest of this year's Kaye Prize recipients. She immigrated to Israel four years ago, after completing a masters degree in analytical chemistry at the University of Helsinki, Finland.
-end-
The Kaye Innovation Awards at the Hebrew University have been awarded annually since 1994. Isaac Kaye of England, a prominent industrialist in the pharmaceutical industry, established the awards to encourage faculty, staff, and students of the University to develop innovative methods and inventions with good commercial potential which will benefit the University and society.

Pictures available upon request. For further information, contact:
Heidi Gleit, HU foreign press liaison: tel. 972-2-588-2904; cell, 972-64-454-593; email heidig@savion.cc.huji.ac.il
Orit Sulitzeanu, HU spokeswoman: tel. 972-2-588-2811

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Related Epilepsy Articles from Brightsurf:

Focal epilepsy often overlooked
Having subtler symptoms, a form of epilepsy that affects only one part of the brain often goes undiagnosed long enough to cause unexpected seizures that contribute to car crashes, a new study finds.

Antibodies in the brain trigger epilepsy
Certain forms of epilepsy are accompanied by inflammation of important brain regions.

Breaching the brain's defense causes epilepsy
Epileptic seizures can happen to anyone. But how do they occur and what initiates such a rapid response?

Using connectomics to understand epilepsy
Abnormalities in structural brain networks and how brain regions communicate may underlie a variety of disorders, including epilepsy, which is one focus of a two-part Special Issue on the Brain Connectome in Brain Connectivity, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers.

Epilepsy: Triangular relationship in the brain
When an epileptic seizure occurs in the brain, the nerve cells lose their usual pattern and fire in a very fast rhythm.

How concussions may lead to epilepsy
Researchers have identified a cellular response to repeated concussions that may contribute to seizures in mice like those observed following traumatic brain injury in humans.

Understanding epilepsy in pediatric tumors
A KAIST research team led by Professor Jeong Ho Lee of the Graduate School of Medical Science and Engineering has recently identified a neuronal BRAF somatic mutation that causes intrinsic epileptogenicity in pediatric brain tumors.

Can medical marijuana help treat intractable epilepsy?
A new British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology review examines the potential of medicinal cannabis -- or medical marijuana -- for helping patients with intractable epilepsy, in which seizures fail to come under control with standard anticonvulsant treatment.

Fertility rates no different for women with epilepsy
'Myth-busting' study among women with no history of infertility finds that those with epilepsy are just as likely to become pregnant as those without.

Do women with epilepsy have similar likelihood of pregnancy?
Women with epilepsy without a history of infertility or related disorders who wanted to become pregnant were about as likely as their peers without epilepsy to become pregnant.

Read More: Epilepsy News and Epilepsy Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.