Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Non-steroid non-vigabatrin therapies of infantile spasms. A Hussain potpourri.

Hussain SA, Navarro M, Heesch J, Ji M, Asilnejad B, Peters H, Rajaraman RR, Sankar R. Limited efficacy of zonisamide in the treatment of refractory infantile spasms. Epilepsia Open. 2020 Jan 24;5(1):121-126. doi: 10.1002/epi4.12381. PMID: 32140650; PMCID: PMC7049796.


A series of relatively small studies collectively suggest that zonisamide may be effective in the treatment of infantile spasms. Using a large single-center cohort of children with infantile spasms, we set out to evaluate the efficacy and safety of zonisamide. We retrospectively identified all patients with infantile spasms who were treated with zonisamide at our center. For each patient, we recorded dates of birth, infantile spasms onset, response (if any), and most recent follow-up. To quantify zonisamide exposure, we recorded daily dosage and patient weight at each sequential encounter so as to allow calculation of peak and weighted-average weight-based dosage. We identified 87 children who were treated with zonisamide, of whom 78 had previously been treated with hormonal therapy or vigabatrin. Peak and weighted-average zonisamide dosage were 7.1 (interquartile range 3.6, 10.2) and 5.4 (interquartile range 3.0, 8.9) mg/kg/day, respectively. Whereas five (6%) patients exhibited resolution of epileptic spasms, only two (2%) patients exhibited video-EEG confirmed resolution of both epileptic spasms and hypsarrhythmia (electroclinical response). Importantly, both electroclinical responders had not previously been treated with hormonal therapy or vigabatrin; in contrast, none of the 78 children with prior failure of hormonal therapy or vigabatrin subsequently responded to zonisamide. Zonisamide was well tolerated, and there were no deaths. This study suggests that zonisamide exhibits favorable tolerability but very limited efficacy among patients who do not respond to first-line therapy. 

Hussain SA, Asilnejad B, Heesch J, Navarro M, Ji M, Shrey DW, Rajaraman RR, Sankar R. Felbamate in the treatment of refractory epileptic spasms. Epilepsy Res. 2020 Mar;161:106284. doi: 10.1016/j.eplepsyres.2020.106284. Epub 2020 Feb 3. PMID: 32058261.


Several small case series provide conflicting impressions of the efficacy of felbamate for treatment of epileptic spasms. Using a large single-center cohort of children with epileptic spasms, we retrospectively evaluated the efficacy and safety of felbamate. We identified all patients with video-EEG confirmed epileptic spasms who were treated with felbamate at our center. We quantified felbamate exposure by calculating peak and weighted-average weight-based dose. Clinical response was defined as resolution of epileptic spasms for at least 28 days, beginning not more than 3 months after felbamate initiation. Electroclinical response was defined as clinical response accompanied by overnight video-EEG demonstrating freedom from epileptic spasms and hypsarrhythmia. Among a cohort of 476 infants, we identified 62 children who were treated with felbamate, of whom 58 had previously failed treatment with hormonal therapy or vigabatrin. Median peak and weighted-average felbamate dosages were 47 and 40 mg/kg/day, respectively. Five (8%) children were classified as clinical responders and two (3%) children were classified as electroclinical responders. Among 17 patients with latency from epileptic spasms onset to felbamate initiation of less than 12 months, we observed 4 (24%) clinical responders. This study suggests that felbamate may be efficacious for treatment of epileptic spasms and that further rigorous study is warranted.

Hussain SA, Dlugos DJ, Cilio MR, Parikh N, Oh A, Sankar R. Synthetic pharmaceutical grade cannabidiol for treatment of refractory infantile spasms: A multicenter phase-2 study. Epilepsy Behav. 2020 Jan;102:106826. doi: 10.1016/j.yebeh.2019.106826. Epub 2019 Dec 6. PMID: 31816477.


Purpose: Limited data suggest that cannabidiol (CBD) may be effective for treatment of refractory infantile spasms (IS). This study was designed to more rigorously evaluate the efficacy and safety of synthetic CBD in the treatment of IS. 

Methods: Children six to 36 months of age with IS that failed treatment with both adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) and vigabatrin (VGB) were eligible for enrollment. Children receiving clobazam were excluded. After baseline overnight video-electroencephalography (vEEG) to confirm diagnosis and ascertain hypsarrhythmia, patients were treated with synthetic CBD oral solution (20 mg/kg/day). Overnight video-EEG was repeated after 14 days, and both baseline and repeat video-EEGs were completely de-identified and reviewed in a pairwise fashion by an independent, blinded pediatric electroencephalographer. The primary efficacy endpoint was freedom from spasms and hypsarrhythmia on day 14. 

Results: Nine patients were enrolled, comprising an older (median age = 23 months) cohort with long-standing IS (median duration = 13 months) and numerous prior treatment failures (median = 6). One patient responded to therapy and eight patients exhibited neither clinical nor electrographic response. 

Conclusions: The immediate but temporary response in a single patient suggests that CBD oral solution is not particularly effective in highly refractory cases, but may, nevertheless, be effective in younger patients with shorter durations of IS. Further study, examining both short- and long-term outcomes, is warranted to further evaluate the efficacy and safety of CBD oral solution in the treatment of IS.

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