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Current Neuropharmacology


ISSN (Print): 1570-159X
ISSN (Online): 1875-6190

Cell and Gene Therapies for Refractory Epilepsy

Author(s): Detlev Boison

Volume 5 , Issue 2 , 2007

Page: [115 - 125] Pages: 11

DOI: 10.2174/157015907780866938

Price: $65


Despite recent advances in the development of antiepileptic drugs, refractory epilepsy remains a major clinical problem affecting up to 35% of patients with partial epilepsy. Currently, there are few therapies that affect the underlying disease process. Therefore, novel therapeutic concepts are urgently needed. The recent development of experimental cell and gene therapies may offer several advantages compared to conventional systemic pharmacotherapy: (i) Specificity to underlying pathogenetic mechanisms by rational design; (ii) specificity to epileptogenic networks by focal delivery; and (iii) avoidance of side effects. A number of naturally occurring brain substances, such as GABA, adenosine, and the neuropeptides galanin and neuropeptide Y, may function as endogenous anticonvulsants and, in addition, may interact with the process of epileptogenesis. Unfortunately, the systemic application of these compounds is compromised by limited bioavailability, poor penetration of the blood-brain barrier, or the widespread systemic distribution of their respective receptors. Therefore, in recent years a new field of cell and gene-based neuropharmacology has emerged, aimed at either delivering endogenous anticonvulsant compounds by focal intracerebral transplantation of bioengineered cells (ex vivo gene therapy), or by inducing epileptogenic brain areas to produce these compounds in situ (in vivo gene therapy). In this review, recent efforts to develop GABA-, adenosine-, galanin-, and neuropeptide Y- based cell and gene therapies are discussed. The neurochemical rationales for using these compounds are discussed, the advantages of focal applications are highlighted and preclinical cell transplantation and gene therapy studies are critically evaluated. Although many promising data have been generated recently, potential problems, such as long-term therapeutic efficacy, long-term safety, and efficacy in clinically relevant animal models, need to be addressed before clinical applications can be contemplated.

Keywords: Epilepsy, epileptogenesis, cell therapy, gene therapy, GABA, adenosine, galanin, neuropeptide Y

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