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Verapamil as Therapy for Children and Young Adults With Dravet Syndrome

The safety and scientific validity of this study is the responsibility of the study sponsor and investigators. Listing a study does not mean it has been evaluated by the U.S. Federal Government. Read our disclaimer for details. Identifier: NCT01607073
Recruitment Status : Completed
First Posted : May 28, 2012
Results First Posted : March 23, 2021
Last Update Posted : April 13, 2021
Mayo Clinic
Ann & Robert H Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago
Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center
Information provided by (Responsible Party):
Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare

Brief Summary:
This study will assess how well the drug verapamil can improve control of seizures and dysautonomia symptoms in children and young adults diagnosed with Dravet syndrome. The safety of verapamil when given with all concomitant medications will also be assessed.

Condition or disease Intervention/treatment Phase
Dravet Syndrome Drug: Verapamil Phase 2

Detailed Description:

Dravet syndrome (DS) is a devastating form of pediatric seizure disorder (epilepsy), often related to abnormalities of one of the genes that controls sodium channel function in the brain (SCN1A). Most children with DS experience continued seizures even with optimal treatment of currently available anti-seizure therapies [1]. Many of these seizures are prolonged, and can be life threatening.

This pilot study will assess the efficacy of verapamil in improving control of seizures in children and young adults DS. This will be done by adding verapamil as open label adjunctive therapy to medications already being given. Investigators will assess the effect of verapamil therapy on seizure control and on signs of autonomic dysfunction observable to the parents/guardians. Signs of autonomic function include body temperature regulation, sweating, heart rate, pupil size, and flushing of the skin. Iannetti, et al reported treating 2 children with clinical DS (one with an SCN1A mutation) with verapamil as adjunctive therapy [2]. Both children had a positive clinical response persisting for a number of months. No adverse effects were noted. We have treated an additional 4 children with DS with verapamil. There have been no significant adverse effects; 3 of 4 have experienced improved seizure control for months also.

Verapamil has been shown to affect autonomic tone in patients with cardiac disorders (eg. high blood pressure, heart attack). It alters the balance between parts of the autonomic nervous system's function (called sympathetic and parasympathetic function) with a shift toward decreased sympathetic tone and increased parasympathetic (vagus nerve) tone [8, 9, 10]. Verapamil is used as an effective agent to treat certain types of autonomic headaches in both adults and children. In cluster headaches, autonomic symptoms (tearing, nasal congestion, facial sweating, papillary constriction) are prominent; verapamil is an accepted treatment [11, 12].

Intense emotion triggers seizures in a subset of children with DS. Modulation of autonomic function is likely an integral part of seizure threshold in those so affected. Children with DS have a higher rate of signs of abnormal autonomic function than do controls [13]. Cardiac autonomic control is also altered in these children, with a shift in the balance between sympathetic (relatively overactive) and parasympathetic (relatively less active) tone [14]. Similar findings have been identified in adults with intractable epilepsy and children with partial epilepsy [15, 16, 17]. Verapamil's action in stabilizing the balance of sympathetic and parasympathetic tone may play a role altering autonomic tone abnormalities in children with DS as well. This may be a part of the mechanism that leads to improved seizure control.

Verapamil has been in clinical use for ~ 25 years. The FDA has granted an Investigational New Drug approval for use of this medication in this population of children and young adults. Investigators propose to add it to the patient's existing medications, and evaluate potential improvement in seizure control. Potential side effects will be screened. Investigators will monitor liver function with blood tests as well as concentrations of anti-seizure medications. Verapamil and nor-verapamil levels will be assessed twice also. Testing of heart rhythm (EKG) will be done before the study starts and twice more during the study.

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Study Type : Interventional  (Clinical Trial)
Actual Enrollment : 2 participants
Allocation: N/A
Intervention Model: Single Group Assignment
Masking: None (Open Label)
Primary Purpose: Treatment
Official Title: Verapamil as Adjunctive Seizure Therapy for Children and Young Adults With Dravet Syndrome
Study Start Date : April 2012
Actual Primary Completion Date : January 2015
Actual Study Completion Date : January 2015

Arm Intervention/treatment
open label adjunctive add on
open label adjunctive add on of verapamil to existing medications. dosing begins at 1 mg/kg/d and increases weekly to target of 4 mg/kg/d in divided doses (three times/day)
Drug: Verapamil

Verapamil will be prepared as a solution. A 50mg/ml oral suspension may be made with immediate release tablets and either a 1:1 mixture of Ora-Sweet and Ora-Plus or a 1:1 mixture of Ora-Sweet SF and Ora-Plus will be used.

Children will start on a 4 weeks titration period:

Week 1: 1mg/kg/day divided BID Week 2: 2mg/kg/day divided BID or TID Week 3: 3mg/kg/day divided BID or TID Week 4: 4mg/kg/day divided TID

In event of adverse events, and in consultation with the family and treating physician, the dosage may be decreased to 2mg/kg/day and remain at that dose for the remainder of the study.

Other Names:
  • Calan
  • Covera
  • Isoptin
  • Verelan

Primary Outcome Measures :
  1. Change in Number of General Tonic-clonic Seizures From Week 8 (Baseline) Visit to Week 12 Visit [ Time Frame: Week 8 (baseline) to Week 12 ]
    The primary study endpoint is the change in number of seizures from baseline. Since we only had one participant finish the study, the endpoint was changed to Week 12 visit. Participants were on verapamil for 4 weeks at Week 12.

Secondary Outcome Measures :
  1. Change in Number of Myoclonic Seizures From Week 8 (Baseline) to Week 12 [ Time Frame: Week 8 (baseline) to Week 12 ]
    The secondary outcome is the change in number of myoclonic seizures between baseline Week 8 visit and Week 12 visit.

  2. Change in Number of Absence Seizures From Week 8 (Baseline) to Week 12 [ Time Frame: Week 8 to Week 12 ]
    The secondary outcome measure is the change in number of absence seizures from Week 8 (Baseline) to Week 12

Information from the National Library of Medicine

Choosing to participate in a study is an important personal decision. Talk with your doctor and family members or friends about deciding to join a study. To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the contacts provided below. For general information, Learn About Clinical Studies.

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Ages Eligible for Study:   2 Years to 25 Years   (Child, Adult)
Sexes Eligible for Study:   All
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   No

Inclusion Criteria:

  • 2 to 25 years old
  • Onset of seizures in first year of life
  • seizure type usually generalized tonic-clonic, clonic, or hemiclonic, often prolonged (>10 minutes)
  • myoclonic jerks/myoclonic seizures
  • history of normal development at seizure onset with subsequent developmental delay or regression which occurs after seizure onset
  • presence of documented abnormality on the SCN1A gene
  • medically intractable epilepsy: must have been on at least 2 prior antiepileptic medications without adequate control of epilepsy
  • subject is capable of giving informed consent (or assent if possible) or has an acceptable surrogate capable of giving informed consent on the subject's behalf

Exclusion Criteria:

  • use of clonidine, propranolol, carbamazepine, oxcarbazine, stiripentol, lamotrigine, or cyclosporine
  • Abnormalities of cardiac conduction or rhythm (excluding sinus arrhythmia) on screening EKG
  • significant use of grapefruit juice
  • ketogenic diet
  • pregnancy

Information from the National Library of Medicine

To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the contact information provided by the sponsor.

Please refer to this study by its identifier (NCT number): NCT01607073

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United States, Illinois
Children's Memorial Hospital
Chicago, Illinois, United States, 60614
United States, Minnesota
Mayo Clinic
Rochester, Minnesota, United States, 55905
Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare
Saint Paul, Minnesota, United States, 55101
United States, New Hampshire
Mary Hitchcock Memorial Hospital
Lebanon, New Hampshire, United States, 03756
Sponsors and Collaborators
Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare
Mayo Clinic
Ann & Robert H Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago
Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center
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Principal Investigator: Beverly S Wical, MD Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare

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Responsible Party: Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare Identifier: NCT01607073    
Other Study ID Numbers: IND 113666
First Posted: May 28, 2012    Key Record Dates
Results First Posted: March 23, 2021
Last Update Posted: April 13, 2021
Last Verified: March 2021
Keywords provided by Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare:
Additional relevant MeSH terms:
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Epilepsies, Myoclonic
Pathologic Processes
Epilepsy, Generalized
Brain Diseases
Central Nervous System Diseases
Nervous System Diseases
Epileptic Syndromes
Anti-Arrhythmia Agents
Calcium Channel Blockers
Membrane Transport Modulators
Molecular Mechanisms of Pharmacological Action
Calcium-Regulating Hormones and Agents
Physiological Effects of Drugs
Vasodilator Agents