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Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

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Lafora disease

Other Names for this Disease
  • Epilepsy progressive myoclonic 2
  • EPM2
  • Lafora body disorder
  • MELF
  • Myoclonic epilepsy of Lafora
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Your Question

Have there been any advances that suggest anything can slow the progression of disease? Why is there so little information on this disease? Are there any other resources that show up to date information?

Our Answer

We have identified the following information that we hope you find helpful. If you still have questions, please contact us.

How might Lafora disease be treated?

Lafora disease is extremely progressive, and no treatments thus far have been shown to be effective. While the initial response to epilepsy and myoclonus treatment early in the disease may be good, control of seizures inevitably deteriorates with time. Progression to non-convulsive status epilepticus when changing antiepileptic drugs (such as stopping valproate and adding carbamazepine) has been reported.[1]

Drugs that have been used in an attempt to limit seizure activity include clonazepam, levetiracetam, piracetam, phenobarbitone, topiramate, valproate and zonisamide. There have been case reports in describing efficacy of add-on therapy with levetiracetam and zonisamide. Individual case reports have also described deterioration with certain antiepileptic drugs including phenytoin. Piracetam has been studied as an add-on therapy to valproate with or without clonazepam, and was shown to have a beneficial effect on myoclonus.[1]

Despite Lafora disease being very progressive, a multidisciplinary approach has been recommended and may include specialists in psychiatry, psychology, occupational therapy and physical therapy. Affected individuals also require interventions such as falls prevention due to ataxia.[1]
Last updated: 6/10/2013

Have there been any advances that suggest anything can slow the progression of Lafora disease?

There are currently no treatments available to slow the progression of Lafora disease. However, there is ongoing research regarding potential future treatments. For example, there has been research on mice with Lafora disease that were bred with mice that have a knockout of the PTG gene (an inactivated copy of the gene). The PTG gene provides instructions for one of the enzymes that modify glycogen synthase activity. If it is not functional, or “knocked out,” no Lafora disease develops. This research may show that the disease could be prevented by indirectly altering glycogen synthase function.[2] An article with more information about this research can be viewed by clicking here.
Last updated: 6/10/2013

Why is there little information about Lafora disease available?

Lafora disease affects a small number of people compared to the general population and is considered rare in many parts of the world.[3] Unfortunately, the field of rare diseases as a whole suffers from a shortage of medical and scientific knowledge, largely due to lack of awareness and funding sources. Until recently there was no real research or public health policy concerning issues related to the field. Those affected by these diseases face similar difficulties in their quest for relevant information and proper direction towards qualified professionals.[3] On a positive note, there are now several organizations aiming to raise awareness of rare diseases as well as funding programs to support rare disease research and potential therapies.
Last updated: 6/11/2013

Where can I find up-to-date information about Lafora disease?

You can find relevant articles on Lafora disease through PubMed, a searchable database of biomedical journal articles. Although not all of the articles are available for free online, most articles listed in PubMed have a summary available. To obtain the full article, contact a medical/university library or your local library for interlibrary loan. You can also order articles online through the publisher’s Web site. Using "Lafora disease" as your search term should help you locate articles. Click here to view a search.

The National Library of Medicine (NLM) Web site has a page for locating libraries in your area that can provide direct access to these journals (print or online). The Web page also describes how you can get these articles through interlibrary loan and Loansome Doc (an NLM document-ordering service). You can access this page at the following link You can also contact the NLM toll-free at 888-346-3656 to locate libraries in your area.
Last updated: 6/11/2013