Drug repositioning in epilepsy reveals novel antiseizure candidates. uri icon


  • Objective: Epilepsy treatment falls short in ~30% of cases. A better understanding of epilepsy pathophysiology can guide rational drug development in this difficult to treat condition. We tested a low-cost, drug-repositioning strategy to identify candidate epilepsy drugs that are already FDA-approved and might be immediately tested in epilepsy patients who require new therapies. Methods: Biopsies of spiking and nonspiking hippocampal brain tissue from six patients with unilateral mesial temporal lobe epilepsy were analyzed by RNA-Seq. These profiles were correlated with transcriptomes from cell lines treated with FDA-approved drugs, identifying compounds which were tested for therapeutic efficacy in a zebrafish seizure assay. Results: In spiking versus nonspiking biopsies, RNA-Seq identified 689 differentially expressed genes, 148 of which were previously cited in articles mentioning seizures or epilepsy. Differentially expressed genes were highly enriched for protein-protein interactions and formed three clusters with associated GO-terms including myelination, protein ubiquitination, and neuronal migration. Among the 184 compounds, a zebrafish seizure model tested the therapeutic efficacy of doxycycline, metformin, nifedipine, and pyrantel tartrate, with metformin, nifedipine, and pyrantel tartrate all showing efficacy. Interpretation: This proof-of-principle analysis suggests our powerful, rapid, cost-effective approach can likely be applied to other hard-to-treat diseases.

publication date

  • February 2019