A weight reduction drug deserted by medical doctors within the 1990s over coronary heart harm fears might lower the variety of seizures in youngsters with extreme epilepsy.

F slashed the variety of matches by as much as 75 per cent amongst youngsters and youngsters with Dravet syndrome, a research discovered.

Dravet syndrome impacts as much as one in each 15,000 youngsters – as many as 49 infants annually within the UK or 253 within the US – and might trigger deadly seizures.

Researchers claimed the work gave ‘hope for a significant breakthrough’. No remedy exists for Dravet, and medicines do not work for half of sufferers.

Fenfluramine was used as a weight reduction remedy however was withdrawn from the market as a result of it was giving individuals leaky coronary heart valves. However now scientists say it might be given to epileptic youngsters in far smaller doses (inventory picture)

A global research involving London’s Nice Ormond Road Hospital and the US pharmaceutical firm Zogenix examined the drug on youngsters around the globe.

It was trialled on 119 youngsters aged between two and 18 within the US, Canada, Australia and western Europe – 9 dropped out earlier than the top.

The youngsters suffered extreme seizures every single day, on common, earlier than they began the trial.

By the top of a 14-week take a look at youngsters taking the best fenfluramine dose diminished their common from 21 over 4 weeks to simply 5 (75 per cent).


Fenfluramine was prescribed within the 1990s as a weight-loss treatment for chubby adults.

The drug works by curbing somebody’s urge for food and making them eat much less, thus stopping them gaining weight.

Nevertheless, a worrying variety of sufferers taking excessive doses (as much as 220mg per day) began to develop coronary heart issues.

When scientists examined 271 sufferers taking the treatment within the US, they discovered 86 of them – one in three – had leaky coronary heart valves, a situation recognized medically as aortic regurgitation.

In 1997 fenfluramine producers voluntarily withdrew the medication from the market.

The decrease dose group diminished their variety of seizures from 18 to 13 (42 per cent).

Within the placebo group, who thought they had been having therapy however really weren’t, the variety of seizures dropped from a mean of 27 to 22 (19 per cent).

‘The frequent seizures suffered in Dravet syndrome impression on the lives of sufferers and their households,’ stated Dr Helen Cross, a neurologist at Nice Ormond Road.

‘In our scientific trial we noticed spectacular reductions in seizures within the sufferers who acquired fenfluramine in contrast with these on the placebo.

‘And though additional research might want to assess the long-term security, I’m optimistic about what we have now seen up to now.

The research was printed within the prestigious British medical journal The Lancet.

Issues concerning the security of the drug have risen out of the actual fact it was withdrawn from the markets in 1997.

It had been used to make adults shed extra pounds however was discovered to be giving individuals leaky valves of their hearts.

Individuals taking it then, nonetheless, had been having a lot bigger doses – as much as 220mg per day – than the youngsters within the research who had a most of zero.7mg per kg of physique weight (round 21mg for a 30kg/66lbs little one, the common weight of a nine-year-old).

The youngsters’s hearts appeared unaffected by the drug however some (20-38 per cent) stated that they had misplaced their appetites, and others misplaced a big quantity of weight.

Different unwanted effects included tiredness and diarrhoea, and 5 youngsters give up the trial due to the unwanted effects.

They admitted unwanted effects might have made it apparent which youngsters had been getting the placebo and which had the excessive dose, which might have affected outcomes.

However on the entire the scientists stated the drug was well-tolerated and it improved their epilepsy.

Arnold Gammaitoni, from the pharmaceutical firm Zogenix, stated: ‘Because the trial completed, many of the sufferers from this research have continued therapy in an ongoing, long-term open label extension research, the place we have now continued to see clinically significant discount of convulsive seizures with no indicators of coronary heart valve issues.’

Professor Samuel Berkovic, from the Epilepsy Analysis Centre on the College of Melbourne in Australia, was not concerned with the analysis however added: ‘Till not too long ago, infants with extreme epilepsy and mental incapacity usually acquired a prognosis of not rather more than that.

‘The trigger was often unknown, therapy was supportive, and households usually felt disempowered resulting from lack of awareness concerning the situation.

‘The transformation of this subject from one among hopelessness, if not disinterest, to thrilling cutting-edge science with particular therapeutic advances and hope for a significant breakthrough is outstanding.’ 


Dravet syndrome is a uncommon however lethal type of epilepsy.

It impacts round one in each 15,000 youngsters – which might be nearly 50 infants annually within the UK or 253 within the US.

The situation is brought on by a genetic mutation which occurs earlier than a child is born and this could trigger a malfunction in the way in which the mind regulates electrical indicators passing by it.

Uncontrolled exercise within the mind can result in seizures and, within the case of Dravet syndrome sufferers, these may be extraordinarily extreme and even deadly.

Nearly half of sufferers with the situation endure from greater than three convulsive seizures every month even when they’re taking antiepileptic medicine.

Dravet syndrome, in addition to inflicting epilepsy, additionally causes delayed growth in youngsters and sufferers are extra probably than common to have autism, ADHD or behaviour issues, problem sleeping, bodily disabilities or points with their immune methods.

The situation can’t be cured, solely managed with treatment.

Source: Dravet Syndrome UK via HearldPublicist.com