North Carolina State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM) is participating in a national clinical trial evaluating a new drug to treat canine idiopathic epilepsy— a chronic condition affecting some four million dogs that is characterized by recurring seizures for which an underlying cause has not been identified.
The largest clinical trial of its kind, the blinded study is sponsored by a major animal health pharmaceutical company and is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. Hundreds of dogs at multiple investigator sites across the country are participating in the study, which will help build a body of evidence-based research that may lead to new insights into canine idiopathic epilepsy and its treatment.
“We are excited to take part in this study which may offer additional treatment options to pets with epilepsy,” says Dr. Karen Munana, associate professor of neurology. “We are constantly trying to research the causes, diagnostic options, and treatments for epilepsy in dogs. Epilepsy is one disease that can impact the human-animal bond to a huge extent.”
Breeds with evidence of genetic predisposition to seizures include beagles, Belgian Tervurens, British Alsatians, collies, dachshunds, golden retrievers, keeshonden, Labrador retrievers, vizslas, German shepherd dogs, and Bernese mountain dogs. Most epileptic dogs suffer their first seizure between the age of one and five years, and male dogs slightly outnumber females in most studies.
Qualifying canine patients must be at least four months old, not previously treated with anti-seizure medication, weigh at least 11 lbs (5kg), have no previous history of seizure clusters, and not be pregnant. Candidates must be seen by the clinical investigator within seven days of the most recent seizure. Dogs that meet the initial eligibility criteria receive free medical evaluations and diagnostic tests. Dogs that are enrolled in the treatment phase of the study receive free medication (no placebo) and monthly exams as well as a CT scan or MRI if over five years of age.
Owners of participating dogs are eligible to have funds credited to their accounts at their referring veterinary hospitals. The medication given to participants may or may not help their seizures. As with all medications, there are risks and benefits, all of which will be discussed with dog owners prior to enrollment. A consumer web site has been created to help answer dog owner questions at .www.HelpForDogsWithSeizures.com
Veterinarians receive financial rewards for referring qualified dogs for screening, and additional rewards if the dogs are enrolled into treatment. Veterinarians may call 919-513-6812 or e-mail Julie_osborne@ncsu.edu for additional information. To learn more about epilepsy research at NC State CVM, visit: /epilepsyresearch.