Cancer drug effective treatment for epilepsy?

July 16, 2013 4:53:36 PM PDT
Houston researchers are testing a drug that's making a life-changing difference for children with a genetic disorder that causes severe seizures. They're stopping the seizures with a cancer drug!

Nine-year-old Aidan's mother, Lisa Maxwell, remembers the days when he had seven seizures a day.

"I lost him at two when he started having seizures. He wouldn't talk, he wouldn't respond. He was so ticklish and happy and would laugh as a baby and at two, I just lost him. I didn't get him back until he started taking this medication. That's when I got my son back," Maxwell said.

She got her son back during a drug study testing Everolimus. It's a drug used for transplant patients and cancer patients. At Texas Children's Hospital, neurologists tested it against tuberous sclerosis, a genetic condition that causes tumors in the brain and severe seizures in children.

Aidan has tuberous sclerosis and he too remembers the seizures.

"Made me have to lay down, go to sleep and I feel good now," he said.

Aidan isn't alone. Doctors say 17 out of the 20 children in the study had their seizures reduced by 73 percent.

"We really believe this will help the brain correct itself and may help the epilepsy get better. Perhaps if it were used early enough, it would make the epilepsy go away," said Dr. Angus Wilfong, director of White Texas Children's Hospital epilepsy program.

They're starting a new study using it against seizures from another genetic cause, and there's hope it may work against more common types of seizures, too.

"It's scary to watch him have seizures and things but now they're so limited that it makes him so much happier now," Aidan's sister Jillian Maxwell said.

"It's miraculous to me," Lisa Maxwell said.

Without so many seizures, Aidan is beginning to enjoy games, and friends and life the way it should be for a nine-year-old boy.

Texas Children's has clearance to test Everolimus against a second genetic cause of epilepsy called Sturge-Weber syndrome.

Dr. Wilfong says there's never been a medicine like this before that stops seizures by changing the brain and correcting the epilepsy.

Find Christi on Facebook at ABC13-Christi Myers or on Twitter at @ChristiMyers13


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