Pioneering Study Discovers an Underlying Cause for Infantile Spasms and Points to a Novel Therapy

UKIST were really excited to hear news this week from an American study, funded by the charity CURE epilepsy, of a potential new treatment for infantile spasms, currently at the stage of success in animal models. The currently available treatments work for about 75% of patients initially (though some later relapse) but have significant side effects. Most anti-epileptic drugs are not effective for treating spasms and up to a third of patients develop multi-drug resistant epilepsy. We welcome this potential new treatment and will be watching the progress of human trials with great interest. 

Article published by Texas Children’s Hospital

Featuring the research of former CURE Epilepsy grantee Dr. John Swann

Infantile spasm (IS) is a severe epileptic syndrome of infancy and accounts for 50% of all epilepsy cases that occur in babies during the first year of life. Current treatment options for this disorder are limited and most affected infants grow up to have developmental delays, intellectual disabilities and other types of severe epilepsy. A ground-breaking study, conducted in the laboratory of Dr. John Swann, director of the Gordon and Mary Cain Paediatric Neurology Research Foundation labs, investigator at the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute at Texas Children’s Hospital and professor at Baylor College of Medicine, has found that the levels of insulin growth factor -1 (IGF-1) and its downstream signalling are reduced in the brains of both IS patients and animal models. Furthermore, they found that the administration of an IGF-1 analogue to an IS animal model successfully eliminated spasms and abnormal brain activity. This exciting study, published in the Annals of Neurology, has the potential to transform the treatment landscape for babies with infantile spasms.