James Wheless, MD: Treatment Development in Epilepsy


The chief of pediatric neurology at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, and director of the Comprehensive Epilepsy Program at Le Bonheur Children's Hospital discussed the current state of research in epilepsy care.

“That’s a small subset of patients, but at least it gets us into the concept of thinking ‘OK, we’re not just treating a symptom over here of the epilepsy,’ [and] we’re going to, ‘OK, it started here with this genetic cause, let’s treat that.’ That’s a real different mind-shift from what we’ve done.”

Despite the lack of in-person medical society meetings to share the information widely, a number of advances and steps have been made in recent months in the care of patients with epilepsy. And as the American Epilepsy Society’s annual meeting was able to occur in early December 2019, some of that science was on display just a few short months ago.

James Wheless, MD, professor and chief, Pediatric Neurology, University of Tennessee Health Science Center, and director, Neuroscience Institute and Le Bonheur Comprehensive Epilepsy Program, Le Bonheur Children's Hospital, told NeurologyLive that the trials and development of new rescue medications have been a bright light in this time. Additionally, he discussed the importance of the ongoing and upcoming trials for an AAV gene therapy for SCN1A-positive epilepsy.

In this interview, Wheless shared his insight into what is going on in the epilepsy pipeline, as well as what concerns his patients have had and how they feel they may be risk amid the ongoing pandemic. Specifically, he noted how quelling their anxieties has been the biggest task.

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