The University of Michigan will be one of the sites to participate in a nationwide clinical trial evaluating the use of the anti-epilepsy drug, Retigabine, in ALS patients. Researchers are currently beginning the control phase of the study and expect to begin enrolling patients in the near future.
Retigabine has a unique mechanism of action and can calm the excitability of nerve cells that are thought to cause seizures. These “hyperexcitable neurons” are also thought to play a role in ALS. In addition to testing the drug, scientists will for the first time create stem cells from enrolled patients to see if the cells can be used to determine in advance which patients could benefit from the medicine.
The clinical trial is a collaboration of the ALS Association, Harvard Stem Cell Institute, Massachusetts General Hospital Neurological Clinical Research Institute, and GlaxoSmithKline.