Scientists seek epileptic dogs for new treatment clinical trial

2nd May 2023
Industry News
Scientists have invited the owners of dogs living with epilepsy to take part in a clinical trial they hope could herald the development of a potential new treatment.

Researchers at the University of Glasgow are collaborating with the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland on the project, which they think could ultimately benefit humans, too.

If successful, it is hoped that the medication could be used to treat dogs with the disease in as little as two years’ time.


Rodrigo Gutierrez Quintana, a senior clinician in veterinary neurology at Glasgow, said they were “super-excited” by the trial.

He said: “If it works it could be life-changing for many epileptic dogs and their owners. It could also give information for future clinical trials in humans.”

Around 60,000 dogs in the UK are thought to be living with epilepsy, making it the most common canine neurological condition.

Of those, around one in three do not respond to currently available anti-seizure medications – a similar proportion to that found within human patients.


Approximately 30 dogs are being sought to join the trial, which will examine the effectiveness of a study medication known as Ant-134, this year.

The medication is intended to block a microRNA (miR) that controls the process of synapsis within the brain in dogs with idiopathic epilepsy.

The work, which has been funded by the American-based charity Cure Epilepsy, seeks to build on earlier research that indicated miRs were a potentially highly promising area for treatment of the disease to target.

The researchers say the product is administered as a single injection into the cerebrospinal fluid and initial testing on other species had shown “long-lasting seizure control with no side effects”.

MRI scan

To be deemed eligible to take part in the study, dogs need to have been diagnosed with idiopathic epilepsy through a normal MRI scan and be enduring more than four seizures a month despite treatment with at least two anti-seizure medications.

They also need to be at least two years old, weigh more than 5kg and be deemed otherwise healthy.

Owners will need to make several site visits to the university’s small animal hospital across a six-month period from the day of treatment and keep a record of seizure episodes, sending the information to researchers on a monthly basis.

Participating dogs will be randomly allocated into one of two groups – one of which will receive the medication while the other is given an identical-looking placebo that contains none of the active ingredients.

The product will also be given to the dogs that initially receive the placebo at the end of the study “if there is evidence that it is safe and effective”.

Interest in the outcome of the study is likely to be further heightened both by the number of dogs with epilepsy, plus the large proportion existing treatments are not effective for, as well as the broader challenges faced by both vets and owners in treating and managing the condition.

Greater support

Research from the RVC, published in February, highlighted the need for greater support to be available for vets and pet owners alike, as well as clearer communications between the two parties.

At the time of publication, Rowena Parker, lecturer in companion animal behaviour and welfare science, urged professionals to strive for “mutual understanding” during their consultations.

She added: “Epilepsy is a challenging condition to manage for dog owners and veterinary surgeons alike.

“Forging strong, trusting partnerships of care between owners and vets is key to maintaining well-being for all three members of the “treatment triangle” – affected dogs, owners and vets.

Results timeline

Dr Quintana said the University of Glasgow research team expects to have results from the current trial within 18 months to two years, subject to the recruitment of participants.

He added: “If all goes well the plan will be to ask for authorisation using the results from the trial and start using it in epileptic dogs.

“Then, for humans, the results of our trial could help organise the first human trials.”

For information about the trial, email


Credit to:  Scientists seek epileptic dogs for new treatment clinical trial (vet Times)

Vet Times. (2023).  Scientists seek epileptic dogs for new treatment clinical trial [online]

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