Focus on Frances Jensen

Stopping Epilepsy Before it Starts

jensen case study

Research on brain development by Frances Jensen, MD is leading to treatments for seizures in the youngest of patients, newborns.

Epilepsy, particularly seizures shortly after birth, can have negative effects on brain development. As a clinician, Frances Jensen, MD, director of Epilepsy Research, is keenly aware of the treatment options available to patients, as well as the long-term prognosis that these patients face. Recognizing the limitations of current treatments available for seizures in infants (both born premature and full-term), Dr. Jensen is determining the basis for the long-term effects of these seizures through her laboratory research and finding ways to block these effects using FDA-approved drugs. She has found that topiramate, a drug used for adult seizures and an off-patent diuretic called bumetanide are effective remedies. Bumetanide, a safe drug that has been used in infants for a number of years, potentiates the effect of phenobarbital, the standard of care treatment for neonatal seizures. Currently, Dr. Jensen and colleagues at Boston Children's Hospital are leading a 50 patient clinical trial testing the effect of bumetanide with phenobarbital, with the goal of increasing the effectiveness of the standard of care treatment.

In the laboratory, Dr. Jensen's research is uncovering the cascade of molecular events that are triggered by seizures and these discoveries hold promise for the development of specific and developmentally targeted drugs. She received a prestigious NIH Pioneer Award in 2007, recognizing her contributions to the field of brain development research and supporting the further exploration of molecular events that occur after brain injuries such as seizures, oxygen starvation and traumatic brain injury. Dr. Jensen's work and her animal models are very powerful for studying and developing treatments for many types of brain injury in children and adults--as well as for cognitive impairments. To learn more about her patented technologies, click here.To see an interview with Dr. Jensen in which she discusses brain development in adolescents, click here.
To find out more about her research and its impact, click here.

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