The identification of potential therapeutic agents for the treatment of epilepsy requires the use of seizure models. Except for some early treatments, including bromides and phenobarbital, the antiseizure activity of all clinically used drugs was, for the most part, defined by acute seizure models in rodents using the maximal electroshock and subcutaneous pentylenetetrazole seizure tests and the electrically kindled rat. Unfortunately, the clinical evidence to date would suggest that none of these models, albeit useful, are likely to identify those therapeutics that will effectively manage patients with drug resistant seizures. Over the last 30 years, a number of animal models have been developed that display varying degrees of pharmacoresistance, such as the phenytoin- or lamotrigine-resistant kindled rat, the 6-Hz mouse model of partial seizures, the intrahippocampal kainate model in mice, or rats in which spontaneous recurrent seizures develops after inducing status epilepticus by chemical or electrical stimulation. As such, these models can be used to study mechanisms of drug resistance and may provide a unique opportunity for identifying a truly novel antiseizure drug (ASD), but thus far clinical evidence for this hope is lacking. Although animal models of drug resistant seizures are now included in ASD discovery approaches such as the ETSP (epilepsy therapy screening program), it is important to note that no single model has been validated for use to identify potential compounds for as yet drug resistant seizures, but rather a battery of such models should be employed, thus enhancing the sensitivity to discover novel, highly effective ASDs. The present review describes the previous and current approaches used in the search for new ASDs and offers some insight into future directions incorporating new and emerging animal models of therapy resistance.
Keywords: Anticonvulsant screening project; Antiepileptic drug; Drug screening; Fit-for-purpose models.