Changing Landscape of Dravet Syndrome Management: An Overview

Neuropediatrics. 2020 Apr;51(2):135-145. doi: 10.1055/s-0040-1701694. Epub 2020 Feb 20.


Dravet syndrome (DS), previously known as severe myoclonic epilepsy of infancy, is a severe developmental and epileptic encephalopathy caused by loss-of-function mutations in one copy of SCN1A (haploinsufficiency), located on chromosome 2q24, with decreased function of Nav1.1 sodium channels in GABAergic inhibitory interneurons. Pharmacoresistant seizures in DS start in the infancy in the form of hemiclonic febrile status epilepticus. Later, other intractable seizure types develop including myoclonic seizures. Early normal development in infancy evolves into moderate to severe intellectual impairment, motor impairment, behavioral abnormalities, and later a characteristic crouching gait. Clobazam, valproate, levetiracetam, topiramate, zonisamide, ketogenic diet, and vagus nerve stimulation had been shown to be effective, but even with polytherapy, only 10% of patients get adequate seizure control. The author provides a narrative review of the current treatment paradigm as well as recent advances in the management of DS based on a comprehensive literature review (MEDLINE using PubMed and OvidSP vendors with appropriate keywords to incorporate recent evidence), personal practice, and experience. In recent years, the treatment paradigm of DS is changing with the approval of pharmaceutical-grade cannabidiol oil and stiripentol. Another novel antiepileptic drug (AED), fenfluramine, had also shown excellent efficacy in phase 3 studies of DS. However, these AEDs primarily control seizures without addressing the underlying pathogenesis and other important common comorbidities such as cognitive impairment, autistic behavior, neuropsychiatric abnormalities, and motor impairment including crouching gait. Several agents targeted for DS are in the developmental stage: TAK935, lorcaserin, clemizole, huperzine analog, ataluren, selective sodium channel modulators and activators, antisense oligonucleotide therapy, and adenoviral vector therapy. As DS is associated with a high risk of sudden unexpected death in epilepsy, seizure detection devices can be used in this population for testing and clinical validation of these devices.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anticonvulsants / therapeutic use*
  • Cannabidiol / therapeutic use*
  • Dioxolanes / therapeutic use*
  • Epilepsies, Myoclonic / drug therapy
  • Epilepsies, Myoclonic / therapy*
  • Fenfluramine / therapeutic use*
  • Genetic Therapy*
  • Humans
  • Oligonucleotides, Antisense / therapeutic use*


  • Anticonvulsants
  • Dioxolanes
  • Oligonucleotides, Antisense
  • Cannabidiol
  • Fenfluramine
  • stiripentol