New drugs can be formulated using Aspergillus fumigatus, red sea fungus to treat epilepsy, reports a new study in the journal ACS Chemical Neuroscience.
New treatments for epilepsy are sorely needed because current medications don't work for many people with the disease. To find new leads, researchers have now turned to the sea -- a source of unique natural products that have been largely untapped for prospective drugs.
The term "epilepsy" covers a spectrum of brain disorders with symptoms ranging from mildly odd sensations to seizures, loss of consciousness and death. Worldwide, the condition affects 50 million people, according to the World Health Organization.
According to the researchers, this study was the first-ever systematic large-scale screen of marine-derived natural products for potential anti-seizure drugs. Initial tests of a variety of these compounds revealed that two γ-lactams produced by the Red Sea fungus Aspergillus fumigatus reduced the number and length of seizures in zebrafish, a model organism they used for high-volume screening of compounds.
The researchers then showed that these natural substances, known as pseurotin A2 and azaspirofuran A, also shortened seizures in a mouse model of epilepsy. The scientists recommend further investigation of these metabolites to explore their biomolecular targets and to design more potent analogs.