Epilepsy & Rare Syndromes at UCB
For more than 30 years, we have focused on discovering solutions that have helped transform the epilepsy treatment landscape and improve the lives of millions of people. Our scientists have developed several life-changing solutions, providing individualized treatments to help people with epilepsy live their ideal lives.
Today, our commitment to the epilepsy community has never been stronger, and we see many more opportunities to deliver value to patients, particularly for those living with rare epileptic syndromes, where significant unmet needs remain.
Our goal is to develop transformative therapies that change the course of disease, bringing meaningful change to people’s everyday lives.
We are working towards a future where we hope to impact the underlying causes of certain epilepsies and change the course of disease.
We have a broad treatment portfolio. Around the world, ~3 million people living with epilepsy take UCB medicines.
Around 65 million people around the world have epilepsy, the most common serious neurological condition. The disease is characterized by recurrent seizures, a type of unusual electrical activity in the brain.
Seizures vary greatly, from a brief lapse in attention or muscle jerk to severe and prolonged convulsions. Seizures can also vary in frequency, from less than one a year to several per day.
There are two main categories of seizure:
- Focal seizures start in just one part of the brain.
- Generalized seizures are the result of simultaneous abnormal activity in the whole of the brain.
There are many different types of epilepsy, and doctors have identified more than 100 different epilepsy syndromes. Each is characterized by specific signs and symptoms. Specific classification and delineation of the underlying cause are important, as they guide treatment and determine prognosis.
See how neurons fire during a seizure.
Many things can cause epilepsy, though it is not always clear. In fact, in around half of epilepsy cases are idiopathic, meaning the cause is unknown. There are five general categories of epilepsy causes:
- Infection: A number of different brain infections can cause epilepsy.
- Structural causes: Abnormal structures in the brain can cause epilepsy and may be present at birth or acquired through an injury, brain tumor, stroke, or other cause.
- Genetic causes: Epilepsy can be caused by genetic defects, which can be inherited or occur spontaneously.
- Autoimmune epilepsy: Immune system reactions, such as antibodies targeting the brain, can cause epilepsy.
- Metabolic causes: Problems with the enzymes that break down food in the body can result in epilepsy.
Our Research Focus
At UCB, we are driven to provide value and new solutions for patients and their families. We are committed to addressing the unmet needs of individuals and families living with a number of specific epilepsies.
In development we are investigating the potential of a novel rescue medication that may lead to rapid epileptic seizure terminations, as well as exploring the treatment of CDKL5 deficiency disorder, a rare developmental epileptic encephalopathy.
Our early research programs are investigating several new treatment modalities targeting disease mechanisms in specific epilepsies. We are also investing in our own gene therapy capabilities as well as pursuing other exciting external research collaborations to validate new potential therapeutic targets for epilepsy drug discovery (with Gliapharm) and for the discovery of small molecule therapeutics as potential treatments of KCNT1 related epilepsies (with Praxis).
More information about rare epilepsies: The impact of developmental and epileptic encephalopathies (DEEs)
This genetic, lifelong condition begins in infancy and is marked both by frequent treatment-resistant seizures and by developmental and cognitive impairments.
Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS)
This rare epilepsy that typically begins in childhood is associated with multiple seizure types and cognitive impairment.
CDKL5 Deficiency Disorder (CDD)
One of the most common forms of genetic epilepsy, CDD is characterized by early-onset, treatment-resistant seizures and neurodevelopmental delay.
There is no known cure for the different types of epilepsy, but through treatment, many people are able to control their seizures.
For most people, the first step in treatment is medication. Healthcare providers typically begin by prescribing a single antiseizure medication (ASM). Overall, 60-70% of patients become seizure free after the start of treatment with ASMs. If seizures are not controlled with a single ASM, healthcare providers may prescribe additional ASMs. Healthcare providers determine which ASM to prescribe based on multiple factors, including the type of seizure, the frequency of seizures, and the patient’s lifestyle.
For some patients, healthcare providers may consider non-pharmacological treatments, such as special diets and devices that send small electrical signals to the nervous system to change how neurons behave. Surgery may also be considered for patients with drug-resistant seizures.
We are strengthening our investments in the development of health technology to support people living with epilepsy. Over the next 10 years, our goal is to improve the detection, management and treatment of seizures through an offering that integrates digital technology with patient input to guide clinician decisions. We invest in meaningful relationships with partners who have the technology and data capabilities to drive this transformation.