We exist to improve the lives
of everyone affected by epilepsy

Amino acid – as good as rescue medication?

24 Jun 2015

Scientists at the Johns Hopkins University (US) have assessed the biological role of an amino acid. They discovered that the amino acid successfully aborts a seizure even more effectively than rescue medication

The amino acid is called D-leucine. It is found in many foods and in certain examples of bacteria. It came to the attention of researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore (US) partly because they had no idea what it did.

What they did know was that it produced chemical by-products similar to those seen in the ketogenic diet. This diet is an accepted treatment for difficult-to-control epilepsies.

The Johns Hopkins team gave the amino acid to laboratory mice who were experiencing status epilepticus. D-leucine aborted the prolonged seizure.

A scientist in the laboratoryThe scientists then decided to test the amino acid against an established rescue medication – diazepam – to see which was most effective.

Incredibly, D-leucine outperformed diazepam in every respect. It aborted an ongoing seizure an average of 15 minutes earlier than diazepam. The laboratory mice returned to normal behaviour with no sign of the sedative side-effects seen with diazepam. D-leucine was even effective at low doses.

Interestingly, the Johns Hopkins research team assessed the effect of the amino acid on nerve receptors. Specifically, they wanted to see if it affected receptors known to be involved in seizure activity.

It didn’t. This means that – however the amino acid works – it must work differently to other available medications. This means that it may be effective in treating people with epilepsy whose seizures are not controlled by current medications.

Full study findings are available in the medical journal Neurobiology of Disease (October 2015).

You may also like...

'Ketogenic' pill to treat drug-resistant epilepsy

New studies in Japan have identified a drug that may help people with epilepsy whose seizures don't respond to medication. The drug changes the energy supply to the brain – effectively mimicking the ketogenic diet

There are no comments yet. Be the first to comment...

Question about your epilepsy?

Use our email helpline service -- your question will be sent directly to our trained helpline advisors who will reply to you. If you post a question about your epilepsy as a comment on a page, it may not be replied to so please use the email helpline service.

Want to talk to other people with epilepsy?

Take a look at forum4e our online community for people with epilepsy. Anyone with epilepsy over the age of 16 can join, from anywhere in the world.

Comment about this page?

We welcome feedback on the content of our website. If you have any comments about the page you were reading, then please complete the form below.

All comments are reviewed by a moderator before appearing on the site. Once the comment appears, your name and comment will be seen by other visitors to the site. Comments will be edited or deleted if they are offensive, libellous, slanderous, abusive, commercial or irrelevant. Comments may also be edited or deleted if they are not relevant to the page on which they are entered.

By making a comment through the website, you allow us to use the comment in our publicity without using your name. If we would like to use your name, we will email you to get your permission.

CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.