AV-101 has been shown to protect against seizures and neuronal damage in animal models of epilepsy, providing preclinical support for its potential as a novel treatment alternative for epilepsy. Epilepsy is one of the most prevalent neurological disorders, affecting almost 1% of the worldwide population. According to the Epilepsy Foundation, as many as three million Americans have epilepsy, and one-third of those suffering from epilepsy are not effectively treated with currently available medications. In addition, standard anticonvulsants can cause significant side effects, which frequently interfere with compliance.
Glutamate is a neurotransmitter that is critically involved in the pathophysiology of epilepsy. Through its stimulation of the NMDA receptor subtype, glutamate has been implicated in the neuropathology and clinical symptoms of the disease. In support of this, NMDA receptor antagonists are potent anticonvulsants. However, classic NMDA receptor antagonists are limited by adverse effects, such as neurotoxicity, declining mental status, and the onset of psychotic symptoms following administration of the drug. The endogenous amino acid glycine modulates glutamatergic neurotransmission by stimulating the GlyB co-agonist site of the NMDA receptor. GlyB site antagonists inhibit NMDA receptor function and are therefore anticonvulsant and neuroprotective. Importantly, GlyB site antagonists have fewer and less severe side effects than classic channel-blocking NMDA receptor antagonists and other antiepileptic agents, making them a safer potential alternative to, and one expected to be associated with greater patient compliance than, available anticonvulsant medications.