Padsevonil randomized Phase IIa trial in treatment-resistant focal epilepsy: a translational approach

P. Muglia*, J. Hannestad, C. Brandt, S. DeBruyn, M. Germani, B. Lacroix, M. Majoie, C. Otoul, D. Sciberras, B.J. Steinhoff, K. Van Laere, W. Van Paesschen, E. Webster, R.M. Kaminski, K.J. Werhahn, M. Toledo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Therapeutic options for patients with treatment-resistant epilepsy represent an important unmet need. Addressing this unmet need was the main factor driving the drug discovery program that led to the synthesis of padsevonil, a first-in-class antiepileptic drug candidate that interacts with two therapeutic targets: synaptic vesicle protein 2 and GABA(A) receptors. Two PET imaging studies were conducted in healthy volunteers to identify optimal padsevonil target occupancy corresponding to levels associated with effective antiseizure activity in rodent models. Optimal padsevonil occupancy associated with non-clinical efficacy was translatable to humans for both molecular targets: high (>90%), sustained synaptic vesicle protein 2A occupancy and 10-15% transient GABA(A) receptor occupancy. Rational dose selection enabled clinical evaluation of padsevonil in a Phase Ha proof-of-concept trial (NCT02495844), with a single-dose arm (400 mg bid). Adults with highly treatment-resistant epilepsy, who were experiencing >= 4 focal seizures/week, and had failed to respond to >= 4 antiepileptic drugs, were randomized to receive placebo or padsevonil as addon to their stable regimen. After a 3-week inpatient double-blind period, all patients received padsevonil during an 8-week outpatient open-label period. The primary endpoint was >= 75% reduction in seizure frequency. Of 55 patients randomized, 50 completed the trial (placebo n-26; padsevonil n = 24). Their median age was 36 years (range 18-60), and they had been living with epilepsy for an average of 25 years. They were experiencing a median of 10 seizures/week and 75% had failed >= 8 antiepileptic drugs. At the end of the inpatient period, 30.8% of patients on padsevonil and 11.1% on placebo were >= 75% responders (odds ratio 4.14; P= 0.067). Reduction in median weekly seizure frequency was 53.7% and 12.5% with padsevonil and placebo, respectively (unadjusted P= 0.026). At the end of the outpatient period, 31.4% were >= 75% responders and reduction in median seizure frequency was 55.2% (all patients). During the inpatient period, 63.0% of patients on placebo and 85.7% on padsevonil reported treatment-emergent adverse events. Overall, 50 (90.9%) patients who received padsevonil reported treatment-emergent adverse events, most frequently somnolence (45.5%), dizziness (43.6%) and headache (25.5%); only one patient discontinued due to a treatment-emergent adverse event. Padsevonil was associated with a favourable safety profile and displayed clinically meaningful efficacy in patients with treatment-resistant epilepsy. The novel translational approach and the innovative proof-of-concept trial design maximized signal detection in a small patient population in a short duration, expediting antiepileptic drug development for the population with the greatest unmet need in epilepsy.
Original languageEnglish
Article number183
Number of pages15
JournalBrain Communications
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020


  • [c-11]ucb-j
  • animal-models
  • antiepileptic drug
  • benzodiazepines
  • brivaracetam
  • drug discovery
  • drug-resistant epilepsy
  • efficacy
  • human brain
  • imaging
  • occupancy
  • partial-onset seizures
  • pet
  • pharmacoresistant epilepsy
  • refractory epilepsy
  • seizures
  • [C-11]UCB-J
  • PET


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