Epilepsy, Stroke Vaccine Shows Promise
NMDA expert John H. Krystal tells WebMD that drugs that block NMDA are being
studied for a wide variety of ailments. "The range of uses for [these
drugs] is much broader than just epilepsy and stroke," says Krystal,
professor of psychiatry at Yale University. "People are interested in
applying [them] to psychiatric disorders and substance abuse, and there are
potential uses of these drugs as protective agents for other disorders such as
dementia, Parkinson's disease, and Huntington's chorea. A question people have
struggled with is how to make these drugs more tolerable because most will
[disrupt thinking] and perception."
Krystal says the vaccine study opens up the "exciting possibility"
that NMDA could be blocked only at the specific places and times abnormal brain
activity occurs. But he points out that NMDA is just one part of a complex
system, and that multiple approaches -- perhaps including both drugs and
vaccines -- may be needed.
- A new vaccine -- tested only in mice -- can prevent seizures and brain
damage due to stroke.
- The vaccine works by stimulating the production of antibodies to a brain
protein, called NMDA, which is a link in the chain of events leading to brain
- These antibodies naturally go to where any abnormal brain activity occurs
and block the action of NMDA.