Epilepsy is a brain disease that causes people to have seizures. With epilepsy, neurons (nerve cells in the brain) do not work properly. Neurons normally create tiny electrical signals in a steady rhythm. These signals tell other parts of the brain and body what to do.
During a seizure, neurons create too many electrical signals, too quickly. Some doctors describe this as an electrical storm in the brain.
There are dozens of anti-seizure drugs that may be prescribed for epilepsy. One type is SV2A binders. SV2A stands for synaptic vesicle protein 2A. These drugs do not cure epilepsy but change how abnormal electrical activity affects the brain. This helps stop or reduce seizures.1,2
SV2A binders may be prescribed for these types of seizures:1
- Generalized seizures
- Focal seizures
- Myoclonic seizures
How do SV2A binders work?
Normally, brain cells talk to each other using electrical signals and chemicals called neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers in the brain. Because epilepsy seizures are caused by nerve cells over-firing, limiting how the nerves react can stop or reduce seizures.1,2
SV2A is a protein found in neurons, or brain cells, and is involved in regulating neurotransmitter release in the brain. Neurons use a variety of neurotransmitters to work. Research shows that SV2A binders work to reduce seizures by changing how neurotransmitters work. Doctors do not fully understand how.1,2
Drugs in this class of anti-seizure medicines include:1
- Brivaracetam (Briviact®)
- Levetiracetam (Keppra®, Roweepra®, Spritam®)
- Levetiracetam XR (Elepsia XRTM, Keppra XR®)
What are the possible side effects?
Side effects are common with any type of anti-seizure medicine. Side effects can vary depending on the specific drug you are taking. The most common side effects of SV2A binders include:2
- Sleepiness and fatigue
- Sore throat
- Mood and behavior changes, including psychosis
Sometimes side effects can be reduced by lowering the dose or switching to a different drug.3
These are not all the possible side effects of SV2A binders. Talk to your doctor about what to expect when taking these drugs. You also should call your doctor if you have any changes that concern you when taking SV2A binders.
Things to know about SV2A binders
Your doctor will test your blood on a schedule to monitor your blood counts of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. All seizure drugs can cause problems with how the bone marrow and organs work. Regular blood work helps your doctor control side effects.3
These drugs are taken by mouth or by infusion. Some can be taken with other anti-seizure medicines, while others can only be taken alone.2
Doctors do not know if these drugs are safe to take while pregnant or breastfeeding.
Other types of anti-seizure medicines work on different pathways and include:
- Sodium channel blockers
- Calcium channel blockers
- Slowing (inhibitory) transmitters
- SV2A protein binders
- Other types, such as extra (excitatory) transmitters
Before beginning treatment for epilepsy, tell your doctor about all your health conditions and any other drugs, vitamins, or supplements you take. This includes over-the-counter drugs.