Israeli, Cal profs team up on epilepsy study

A professor at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel, an associate professor at U.C. Berkeley and other members of a research team have co-authored a paper stating that losartan, a common prescription drug used for high blood pressure, may also prevent the onset of epilepsy after a brain injury.

The team of researchers included Daniela Kaufer, an associate professor of integrative biology at U.C. Berkeley and a member of the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute, and Alon Friedman, BGU professor of physiology and neurobiology. The team has been collaborating on research for 10 years, BGU noted in a recent press release.

Published in the Annals of Neurology, the paper says the researchers found that losartan, which is sold under the brand name Cozaar, prevented a majority of cases of post-traumatic epilepsy in a rodent model of the disease. Approximately 10 to 20 percent of all epilepsy cases are caused by severe head trauma, BGU noted.

“This is the first-ever approach in which epilepsy development is stopped, as opposed to using common drugs that try to prevent seizures once epilepsy develops,” Friedman said. “Those drugs are administered for many years, have limited success and involve many side effects, so we are excited about the new approach.”

If independent experiments now underway confirm the team’s findings, human clinical trials could start within a few years, the press release noted.