Klonopin (clonazepam) is an anticonvulsant medication used to control seizures and panic attacks. It is marketed by Genentech.

In combination with other anticonvulsants, the medicine may be beneficial for treating seizures in Batten disease patients.

How Klonopin works

Klonopin works as a GABA-agonist, or a molecule that acts in a similar way to GABA.

GABA is a signaling molecule that inhibits the activity of nerve cells. It performs its action by binding to GABA receptors found on nerve cells.

Klonopin binds to one of these receptors, GABAA, and also blocks the activity of nerve cells so they are less sensitive to stimulation.  As such, it reduces their uncontrolled firing that is the cause of seizures.

Klonopin in clinical trials

Klonopin has not been tested in randomized clinical trials for the treatment of Batten disease, but a small study suggests that Batten patients may benefit from this medication. The study, published in 2000, analyzed medical records from hospitals in Finland and included 60 juvenile Batten disease patients, 50 of whom also had epilepsy.

Twenty-two patients received Klonopin in combination with lamotrigine, valproic acid, or two other anticonvulsants. The mean dose of Klonopin was 0.05 mg per kg per day.

After one year, seizure control was satisfactory in 90 percent of those given Klonopin in combination with lamotrigine, and 60 percent in combination with valproic acid. In patients receiving Klonopin in conjunction with two other anticonvulsants, seizure control was poorer. Satisfactory seizure control was defined as six or fewer seizures per year and seizures lasting for less than 20 minutes.

The study did not assess whether the outcome difference with the varying Klonopin combinations was statistically significant.

Additional information

People with severe liver disease or narrow-angle glaucoma should not take Klonopin. Narrow-angle glaucoma is caused by a blockage of the drainage canals in the eye, leading to increased internal eye pressure.

Klonopin may increase the risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior. Changes in mood and behavior should be carefully monitored in people using Klonopin.

Common side effects of Klonopin include drowsiness, dizziness, muscle or joint pain, blurred vision, and problems with coordination.

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