New Drugs Based on the Female Hormone Progesterone

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The most common seizures in adults are complex partial seizures, which often start at the sides of the brain - regions known as the temporal lobes. These seizures are very hard to control with the standard antiepileptic drugs.

Dr. McIntyre Burnham's group has evolved a rat model for complex partial seizures (known as 'the amygdala kindling model'). They have also found a progesterone-like compound (called dihydroprogesterone) that suppresses seizures in this rat model. Dihydroprogesterone does not act as a hormone, and is effective in both males and females. It is hoped that drugs based on dihydroprogesterone might suppress complex partial seizures in humans.

A new biotech company is being formed to develop dihydroprogesterone-like compounds as antiepileptic drugs. It is hoped that the new compounds will be the first medications that are truly effective against complex partial seizures.


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