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Publication Detail
Epilepsy gene therapy using an engineered potassium channel.
  • Publication Type:
    Journal article
  • Publication Sub Type:
  • Authors:
    Snowball A, Chabrol E, Wykes RC, Shekh-Ahmad T, Cornford JH, Lieb A, Hughes MP, Massaro G, Rahim AA, Hashemi KS, Kullmann DM, Walker MC, Schorge S
  • Publication date:
  • Journal:
    J Neurosci
  • Status:
    Published online
  • Country:
    United States
  • PII:
  • Language:
Refractory focal epilepsy is a devastating disease for which there is frequently no effective treatment. Gene therapy represents a promising alternative, but treating epilepsy in this way involves irreversible changes to brain tissue, so vector design must be carefully optimized to guarantee safety without compromising efficacy. We set out to develop an epilepsy gene therapy vector optimized for clinical translation. The gene encoding the voltage-gated potassium channel Kv1.1, KCNA1, was codon-optimized for human expression and mutated to accelerate the channels' recovery from inactivation. For improved safety, this engineered potassium channel (EKC) gene was packaged into a non-integrating lentiviral vector under the control of a cell type-specific CAMK2A promoter. In a blinded, randomized, placebo-controlled pre-clinical trial, the EKC lentivector robustly reduced seizure frequency in a male rat model of focal neocortical epilepsy characterized by discrete spontaneous seizures. When packaged into an adeno-associated viral vector (AAV2/9), the EKC gene was also effective at suppressing seizures in a male rat model of temporal lobe epilepsy. This demonstration of efficacy in a clinically relevant setting, combined with the improved safety conferred by cell type-specific expression and integration-deficient delivery, identify EKC gene therapy as ready for clinical translation in the treatment of refractory focal epilepsy.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENTPharmacoresistant epilepsy affects up to 0.3% of the population. Although epilepsy surgery can be effective it is limited by risks to normal brain function. We have developed a gene therapy that builds on a mechanistic understanding of altered neuronal and circuit excitability in cortical epilepsy. The potassium channel gene KCNA1 was mutated to bypass post-transcriptional editing, and packaged in a non-integrating lentivector to reduce the risk of insertional mutagenesis. A randomized, blinded pre-clinical study demonstrated therapeutic effectiveness in a rodent model of focal neocortical epilepsy. Adeno-associated viral delivery of the channel to both hippocampi was also effective in a model of temporal lobe epilepsy. These results support clinical translation to address a major unmet need.
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Clinical & Experimental Epilepsy
Neuro, Physiology & Pharmacology
Clinical & Experimental Epilepsy
Clinical & Experimental Epilepsy
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