A recent study in the Annals of Neurology reports on identified genes that may determine why any two children with childhood absence epilepsy (CAE) can have vastly different responses to the same drug. 

Tracy Glauser.

Tracy Glauser, MD

The results suggest that knowing gene variants in children with CAE may help predict what drugs work best for them.

As part of a 32-center clinical trial, a team led by Tracy Glauser, MD, Director of the Comprehensive Epilepsy Center at Cincinnati Children’s, investigated responses to three drugs used for CAE: ethosuximide, valproic acid and lamotrigine. They compared the effects of these drugs in 446 children with CAE.

Doctors focused on three genes that code for T-type calcium channels, which control the firing rate of brain cells, and on one gene that helps transport drugs from the brain. The team identified two calcium channel genes that occur in children for whom ethosuximide does not work. They also found variants of the genes in children for whom lamotrigine was effective.