Neurona Therapeutics is testing a new therapy for a drug-resistant form of epilepsy and has just released some encouraging early findings. The first patient treated went from having more than 30 seizures a month to just four seizures over a three-month period.
This clinical trial, funded by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), is targeting mesial temporal lobe epilepsy (MTLE), one of the most common forms of epilepsy. Because the seizures caused by MTLE are frequent, they can be particularly debilitating and increase the risk of a decreased quality of life, depression, anxiety and memory impairment.
Neurona’s therapy, called NRTX-1001, consists of a specialized type of neuronal cell derived from embryonic stem cells. Neuronal cells are messenger cells that transmit information between different areas of the brain, and between the brain and the rest of the nervous system.
NRTX-1001 is injected into the brain in the area affected by the seizures where it releases neurotransmitters or chemical messengers that will block the signals in the brain causing the epileptic seizures.
The first patient treated had a nine-year history of epilepsy and, despite being on anti-epileptic medications, was experiencing dozens of seizures a month. Since the therapy he has had only four seizures in three months. The therapy hasn’t produced any serious side effects.
In a news release Dr. Cory Nicholas, Neurona’s President and CEO, said while this is only one patient, it’s good news.
“The reduced number of seizures reported by the first person to receive NRTX-1001 is very encouraging, and we remain cautiously optimistic that this reduction in seizure frequency will continue and extend to others entering this cell therapy trial. NRTX-1001 administration has been well tolerated thus far in the clinic, which is in line with the extensive preclinical safety data collected by the Neurona team. With recent clearance from the Data Safety Monitoring Board we are excited to continue patient enrollment. We are very grateful to these first participants, and thank the clinical teams for the careful execution of this pioneering study.”
CIRM has been a big supporter of this work from the early Discovery stage work to this clinical trial. That’s because when we find something promising, we want to do everything we can to help it live up to its promise.