Overcoming drug resistance in childhood seizure and psychiatric disorders caused by potassium channels

Chief Investigator:

Professor Leanne Dibbens

Research Area:

Improving children’s mental health and the impact of developmental disorders.
Basic Science

Funding Amount:



University of South Australia


Children with a defective potassium channel (KCNT1) gene have a serious developmental disorder which includes epilepsy and psychiatric features. Affected children experience frequent seizures, even when on anti-epileptic medications, known as ‘drug resistant seizures’. We have identified naturally occurring molecules in the body that modulate the activity of the KCNT1 channel. Depletion of one of these molecules contributes to reduced effectiveness of medication on defective sodium channels in epilepsy. Showing that these molecules can improve the function of defective KCNT1 potassium channels will be a ground breaking step towards offering new treatments for affected children.