New fat-based drugs can treat epilepsy
Experts believe that a substance produced by the body when it uses fat as fuel can provide a new way to treat epilepsy. Researchers from London are conducting preliminary tests of a fatty acid treatment method.
They were led to this idea by a diet prescribed to children with a form of epilepsy resistant to the use of drugs. A fat-rich, low-carb diet is used to mimic aspects of hunger, causing the body to burn fats, not carbohydrates.
Often effective, the diet has still attracted criticism due to the presence of side effects such as constipation, hypoglycemia, stunted growth, and bone fractures. Therefore, scientists decided to develop pills that have a similar effect, but without side effects.
At the beginning of the study, scientists from University College London identified fatty acids that look like good candidates for work.
Scientists have found that some fatty acids not only outperform the conventional epilepsy medicine (valproate) in controlling seizures in animals, but also have fewer side effects. However, tests are still needed to determine if treatment will be safe and effective for people.
Identifying these fatty acids is an exciting breakthrough. Research means that children and adults with epilepsy could get a fat-rich diet without significantly changing their eating habits and unpleasant side effects.
Epilepsy affects more than 50 million people worldwide and about a third of these people suffer from epilepsy, which does not respond properly to current treatments. This discovery offers a completely new approach to the treatment of drug-resistant forms of epilepsy in children and adults.