Last week, Lab Land noticed similarities between two independent lines of research from the Escayg and Traynelis/Yuan labs at Emory. Both were published recently and deal with rare forms of genetic epilepsy, in which molecular understanding of the cause leads to individualized treatment, albeit with limited benefit.
Both conditions are linked to an excess of neuronal excitation, and both can be addressed using medications that have also been tested for Alzheimer’s. A critical difference is that memantine is FDA-approved for Alzheimer’s, but huperzine A is not.
|What condition?||Dravet syndrome/GEFS+||Epilepsy-aphasia syndrome|
|What gene is mutated?||SCN1A – sodium ion channel||GRIN2A – NMDA receptor subunit|
|What is the beneficial drug?||Huperzine A||Memantine|
|How does the drug work?||Acetylcholinesterase inhibitor||NMDA receptor antagonist|
|Other drugs that use the same mechanism||Alzheimer’s medications such as donepezil
Irreversible + stronger: insecticides, nerve gas
|Ketamine, phencyclidine (aka PCP)|