Lorcaserin for Dravet Syndrome: A Potential Advance Over Fenfluramine?


Meir Bialer and Emilio Perucca. 2022. “Lorcaserin for Dravet Syndrome: A Potential Advance Over Fenfluramine?” CNS drugs, 36, 2, Pp. 113–122.


Lorcaserin, a selective serotonin 5-HT(2C) receptor agonist, was developed as an appetite suppressant with the rationale of minimizing the risk of cardiovascular toxicity associated with non-selective serotoninergic agents such as fenfluramine. Eight years after FDA approval, however, it was withdrawn from the market, when a large safety study suggested a potential cancer risk. Following in the fenfluramine footsteps and utilizing the repurposing approach coupled with the regulatory orphan drug designation, lorcaserin is currently in clinical development for the treatment of epilepsy. This potential novel indication builds on the evidence that 5-HT(2C) receptor stimulation can protect against seizures, and accounts at least in part for fenfluramine's antiseizure effects in Dravet syndrome models. In animal models, lorcaserin shows a narrower range of antiseizure activity than fenfluramine. In particular, lorcaserin is inactive in classical acute seizure tests such as maximal electroshock and subcutaneous pentylenetetrazole in mice and rats, and the 6-Hz stimulation model in mice. However, it is active in the GAERS absence seizure model, and in mutant zebrafish models of Dravet syndrome. Preliminary uncontrolled studies in patients with Dravet syndrome have yielded promising results, and a phase III, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel group trial is currently ongoing to assess its efficacy and safety in children and adults with Dravet syndrome.