LONDON, September 8 /PRNewswire/ --

A breakthrough method has been found to reduce the dangerous side-effects of a medicine that successfully tackles epilepsy, according to research released at the British Pharmaceutical Conference (BPC) in Manchester.

Epilepsy is an incurable condition which causes people to suffer repeated seizures caused by a burst of abnormal electrical activity in the brain. It affects about one in 30 people in the UK.(1)

Anti-epileptic medicines such as valproic acid help stabilise the electrical activity in the brain and prevent seizures in most epilepsy patients. Its use is restricted due to rare, but potentially life-threatening side effects, such as toxic liver damage, stomach ulcers and serious inflammation of the pancreas.

Pharmacy researchers combined amino acids (the building blocks of proteins) with the valporic acid, and this combination medicine significantly reduced the likelihood of valproic acid causing liver damage or ulcers. Amino acids are found in normal foods, and have a healing effect on gastric irritation.

The research team is also investigating whether the valproic acid combination medicine has any potential as an anti-cancer therapy.

Lead pharmacy researcher, Dr Sushant Kumar Shivastava, Department of Pharmaceutics, Banaras Hindu University, India, said: "Valproic acid is powerfully effective against different kinds of epilepsy and we are confident this research breakthrough represents a major future improvement for patients with epilepsy."

Notes to editors

The British Pharmaceutical Conference 2008 (BPC)

BPC 2008: Pharmacy in the 21st Century: Adding years to life and life to years. In 2008, as the NHS marks its 60th anniversary year, BPC will examine how pharmacy and the pharmaceutical services are helping to add years to life and life to the year of the UK population. The profession of pharmacy plays an important role in meeting the healthcare challenges associated with the UK's ageing population.

How can pharmacists contribute to caring for the population as well as ensuring quality of life? Increasingly, scientists and practitioners have to consider the cost implications of this conundrum, and the evidence base for all interventions is becoming of paramount importance: BPC 2008 will debate these issues and open up discussion on them. Visit:

The main sponsors of BPC 2008 are: Boots The Chemists (Lead Sponsor), AstraZeneca (Associate Sponsor and BPC-PJ Careers Forum Platinum Sponsor), Pharmacists' Defence Association (PDA) (Associate Sponsor) and GSK (BPC-PJ Careers Forum Platinum Sponsor).

Research released at BPC is published in the Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology (JPP).


1. Epilepsy: A General Introduction. Information leaflet. Accessed 9 August 2008.

For media enquiries please contact: The British Pharmaceutical Conference 2008 Press Office (September 7, 8, and 9 only): Tel: +44(0)161-827-8765, Tel: +44(0)161-827-8766, Tel: +44(0)161-827-8767, Tel: +44(0)161-827-8768, Fax: +44(0)161-839-9311; Mobile: Tel: +44(0)7792-109-834, Tel: +44(0)7739-533-658. Or: The Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain's Public Relations Unit, +44(0)20-7572-2335