According to a group of researchers in Lancaster and Philadelphia, repurposing drugs may be able to prevent seizures in a rare form of epilepsy. They also suggested that the method may work in more common types of epilepsy, as well.

For now, the researchers are tracking and studying an extremely rare neurodevelopmental disorder that is present in at least 4 percent of Old Order Mennonites in Lancaster County. It is a gene mutation that blocks the functioning of a protein called STRADA which helps regulate cell growth and movement. The mutated gene causes kids to be born with twisted limbs and other developmental problems. That is why the condition is informally known as Pretzel Syndrome.

During the research, scientists removed STRADA from cells in a petri dish, and the cells eventually grew out of control. When the researchers did the same thing in fetal mouse brains, the mice developed a condition that was similar to Pretzel Syndrome. This is where the study got interesting. Scientists then added sirolimus, an immunosuppressant (rapamycin), which caused the mice to grow normally. What this means for epilepsy patients is that “all but one of the patients, who averaged three years of age, had previously had seizures,” says senior author Peter Crino, a professor of neurology at Temple University. “After up to 12 months on the medication, only one of the patients had experienced a single additional seizure. The youngest, who was started on the drug at three months, before ever experiencing a seizure, never had one. The patient with by far the most seizures previously, 180 in a year, also had none.”

The best part about this study is that there were no serious side effects. And there were hints of cognitive improvement, as well. The results of this research were published in Science Translational Medicine. Epilepsy is often treated with anti-seizure medications like Topamax. Topamax has been linked to serious side effects including birth defects in babies whose mothers take the drugs while pregnant. Children may be born with birth defects such as PPHN, spina bifida, neural tube defects, oral clefts and heart, lung and brain defects after exposure to Topamax in-utero.

If your baby was born with birth defects after in-utero exposure to Topamax, contact attorney Greg Jones today for a free consultation. I am experienced at fighting Topamax lawsuits and may be able to help you recover money for your child’s injuries.