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WisBusiness: Madison start-up working on potential epilepsy breakthrough

By Shelly Bohn
For WisBusiness.com

MADISON Ė For people who suffer from epilepsy, current drugs donít always control seizures. A startup company with ties to UW-Madison technology, NeuroGenomex Inc., is trying to provide a breakthrough medication.

Epilepsy affects more than 3 million Americans every year, with most new cases developing in children and elderly. Epilepsy is a central nervous system disorder whose main symptom is seizure caused by electric activity in the brain.

Seizures can vary in type and severity depending on how much or what part of the brain is affected. They range from distant staring off into space to uncontrollable muscle stiffening or jerking. Seizures can be treated but current medication does not effectively treat all seizures. Fifty percent of epileptic patients, nearly 1.5 million people in the United States alone, still experience some form of seizure while on medication, sometimes more than 100 episodes a day.

But relief may be coming in the form of a new drug, 2-deoxy-D-glucose (2DG) from NeuroGenomeX, Inc. 2DG has been used since 1979 for brain PET imaging studies. NeuroGenomeX, Inc. is a drug development company dealing with the discovery and validation of drugs to treat neurological disorders.

Dr. Thomas Sutula, co-founder of NeuroGenomeX, Inc., and other scientists discovered therapeutic actions of 2DG as an anticonvulsant. 2DG acts differently than most drugs in that it reduces the susceptibility to additional seizures by increasing the threshhold level at which seizures occur. Current medication targets seizures by decreasing the electrical activity in the brain. 2DG has the capacity to significantly reduce seizure frequency in epileptic patients who do not respond to existing drugs. 2DG has had positive results in four different animal epilepsy models, which is proving to be very predictive of human effectiveness.

NeuroGenomeX, Inc., through pre-clinical development, anticipates filing an Investigational New Drug application with the Food and Drug Administration, which will lead to human clinical trials of 2DG. NGX will complete all steps through Phase 2 but then 2DG expects to be acquired by a large pharmaceutical company to carry out Phase 3.

NeuroGenomeX presented to investors at the 2008 Wisconsin Early Stage Symposium, held Nov. 5-6 in Madison.

-- Bohn is a senior at UW-Madison majoring in Dairy Science and Life Science Communications.

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