Dr. Steven Schachter, Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School (HMS), and Associate Director of Clinical Research at the HMS Division for Resarch and Education in Complementary and Integrative Medical Therapies, recently received a research grant from Epilepsy Therapy Project to lead a study on East Asian herbs as a potential source of new antiseizure medications. The following is an interview with Dr. Schachter conducted by epilepsy.com editor Jenna Martin.
Q. You’ve just recently been awarded a translational research grant by Epilepsy Therapy Project to explore the use of Asian herbs as potential new therapies for the treatment of epilepsy. Can you explain the overall goals of this study?
A. The main goal of the study is to scientifically study herbs and combinations of herbs that have traditionally been used over a number of centuries in East Asia to treat seizures. The research during this grant will be in animals and in scientific laboratories. The ultimate goal is to discover new compounds that could possibly undergo further testing in people with epilepsy.
Q. What is the design as well as the methodology of your study?
A. Once we identify herbs and combinations of herbs that we would like to study, we will obtain them from our colleagues in China and Japan and send them to the Anticonvulsant Screening Program (ASP) at the National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke, who will submit them for animal experiments at the University of Utah. The animal experiments are the same ones that have been used to test experimental seizure drugs. Those herbs or combinations of herbs that appear to have anti-seizure effects in the animal experiments will then undergo a second round of experiments at Harvard Medical School called high-throughput screens.
Q. What herbs will you studying?
A. It is too soon for me to identify specific herbs, but our criteria in selecting herbs include clinical recommendations of senior herbal experts in China and Japan; electronic database searches; review of original references in traditional textbooks of medicine from China and Japan; promising results from published clinical trials; and availability of high-quality specimens.
Q. Can you define in simple terms what high-throughput screens are?
A. High-throughput screens are a way to quickly evaluate a large number of compounds, or in this case, herbal extracts, to determine how they may work in biological systems. We are particularly interested in looking at biological systems involved in protecting brain cells from damage.
Q. What is the potential significance of your proposed work?
A. If our work is successful, we might identify one or more compounds derived from one or more herbs that could then undergo further testing to determine if they may be suitable as medications to treat seizures.
Q. What sets your study apart from many is your multi-international team of clinical researchers. How was this team assembled?
A. This research is made possible by the collaboration of scientists at the China Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine (Beijing), the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and Keio University (Japan). I was introduced to these collaborators by David Eisenberg, MD, the director of the Harvard Medical School Division for Research and Education in Complementary & Integrative Medical Therapies. Dr. Eisenberg had already established a working collaboration with these individuals through an NIH grant. When we all met last June in Japan, we started to work on this project.
Q. How long is your study expected to run?
A. The initial phase will be one year. We hope to extend the research if our initial results are promising.
|Grand Mal a week ago - Still feeling dizzy||Dec 21, 2013|
|My Husband has Narcoleptic Grandmal Seizures and wants a BABY!!||Dec 21, 2013|
|I'm scared, Dilantin is killing me!||Dec 20, 2013|
|Simple partial seizures left untreated||Dec 20, 2013|
|Being a Nurse who has epilepsy||Dec 20, 2013|
|Has anyone else had a feeling of complete overstimulation?||Dec 20, 2013|
|Seizures return after 30 years?!||Dec 20, 2013|
|Need some insight regarding symptoms I feel are possibly seizure related||Dec 20, 2013|
|Hi, I'm Caeti! New to having seizures...I think...?||Dec 20, 2013|
|Memory Loss/Side Effects - Lamictal vs. Topomax||Dec 20, 2013|
|View all Forums|
|topamax and weight loss||19,412|
|Possible cure for absence seizures||16,695|
|How exactly do aura's feel||14,771|
|Sexual Side Effects||13,634|
|MEDICAL ALERT I.D.'s||12,607|
|Over 40 Different Types Of Seizures - Revised||10,553|
|electrical shock in head?||10,131|
|Weight Gain and Depakote||9,035|
|View all Forums|
|Falling Down Funny - It's Harder On Us Than It Is On You||Dec 21, 2013|
|keppra and depakote together?||Dec 20, 2013|
|Overwhelmed||Dec 20, 2013|
|Hyperventilation & epilepsy, a way to help yourself.||Dec 17, 2013|
|Brain Zaps, tics & twitches||Dec 15, 2013|
|Why?!||Dec 15, 2013|
|halfway there!||Dec 13, 2013|
|withdrawal symptoms||Dec 13, 2013|
|women classic snow boots all can get 60% off||Dec 12, 2013|
|update seizure first aid||Dec 12, 2013|
|View all Blogs|
|my partial complex seizures||4,606|
|Topomax... The Dreaded.........||3,805|
|How can you tell if a sleep seizure happens?||3,602|
|Brain Zaps, tics & twitches||3,600|
|side effects of phenobarb.||3,226|
|Tegretol XR and ANXIETY meds||2,907|
|TYLENOL, AEDs & SEIZURES||2,844|
|Nonepileptic "Events" vs. "Seizures"||2,721|
|View all Blogs|
|Cheap Canada Goose Jackets Outlet on sale 60% off online||Dec 12, 2013|
|epilepsy only||Dec 11, 2013|
|Hawaiian and have epilepsy||Nov 28, 2013|
|Epileptics over 50 with poorly controlled seizures||Oct 28, 2013|
|The "CHillin Out" Chat group||Oct 14, 2013|
|Epilepsy Marathon||Oct 13, 2013|
|Epilepsy and Hormones||Oct 5, 2013|
|Epileptics Working from Home for Websites||Sep 18, 2013|
|new worried Mum||Jul 24, 2013|
|Types of Epilepsy||Jul 23, 2013|
|View all Groups|
|Parents Of Children With Epilepsy||269|
|Temporal Lobe Epilepsy||171|
|Women and epilepsy||170|
|Living a life with Epilepsy||133|
|Anyone with Simple Partial Seizures||109|
|Dating and Epilepsy||94|
|Epilepsy and Memory Loss??||88|
|Epilepsy Surgery Group||74|
|Absence Seizures in Kids||73|
|View all Groups|
|Side effects after right selective amygdalahippocampectomy||Dec 20, 2013|
|Seizures return after 30 year absence?!||Dec 20, 2013|
|Newly diagnosed at age 56||Dec 19, 2013|
|My son`s future||Dec 19, 2013|
|AN Amazing Testimony On A Spell Caster Who help me to get pregnant||Dec 18, 2013|
|Suddenly I'm having seizures after many years with no problem||Dec 17, 2013|
|seizure free for 2 months||Dec 16, 2013|
|My story||Dec 16, 2013|
|my story||Dec 15, 2013|
|epilepsy||Dec 14, 2013|
|View all Stories|
|Temporal Lobe Epilepsy||657|
|Always Have On Clean Underwear||533|
|my brain has died a thousand deaths...........||532|
|Kelly's Life With Epilepsy||496|
|What My Seizures Are Like......||434|
|Nocturnal grand mal seizures (primary generalized epilepsy)||431|
|My Daily Philosophy.....||386|
|View all Stories|