Epilepsy affects more than 50 million people worldwide. While many new anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) have been introduced in the last decade, about 25-35 percent of patients still suffer from inadequately controlled seizures or significant adverse events associated with their therapy. Refractory epilepsy therefore continues to represent a significant challenge for patients, clinicians, and experimental scientists attempting to identify more effective therapies. In addition to identifying more effective therapies for "refractory" epilepsy, there is an ever-increasing need to focus discovery efforts on therapies that might ultimately translate into a "cure" for epilepsy. At the present time, the development of new therapies is thwarted by the lack of in vitro and in vivo experimental models that closely resemble chronic human epilepsy.The landmark "Curing Epilepsy: Focus on the Future" Conference, in March 2000, identified, as one major research direction, the validation and application of models of epileptogenesis and epilepsy as biological test systems for the development of novel therapies. The first step towards addressing this mandate was taken March 1 - 2, 2001 when NINDS sponsored a Workshop, "Models for Epilepsy and Epileptogenesis I". Participants representing academia, government, and the pharmaceutical industry discussed ways to foster the development of (1) therapies for adult and childhood epileptogenesis and (2) therapies for adult and childhood pharmacoresistance. Other attendees included individuals from patient advocacy organizations such as the American Epilepsy Society, Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy, and the Epilepsy Foundation of America.
Participant recommendations included: (1) the development and validation of new models and the further characterization of existing models for epileptogenesis and pharmacoresistance; (2) technology development for long-term studies essential to monitor seizures and deliver drugs to small and developing animals; (3) the elucidation of mechanisms of epileptogenesis and pharmacoresistance, including the identification of surrogate markers that could provide faster and more predictive screening methods; (4) epidemiology studies to document the natural history of epileptogenesis and pharmacoresistance and to identify risk factors; (5) an infrastructure with expertise needed to carry out complex studies; (6) mechanisms for dissemination of information regarding potential therapeutic discoveries and directions; (7) establish a center(s) or consortia to maintain standards and to carry out large-scale evaluation of compounds. (8) identify an advisory panel to review evolving information and make recommendations to facilitate the drug discovery process.
Last updated April 12, 2011