Seven-year HSV encephalitis study nears the finishing line

The DexEnceph study recently recruited its final patient since December 2015 with the research team now working to complete the follow up and analyse their findings in time for the Encephalitis Conference in December.

Their aim is to discover whether the drug dexamethasone, which can reduce brain swelling, benefits HSV encephalitis patients in the longer term.

Professor Tom Solomon, who led the study, said: “We know that dexamethasone reduces swelling, but what we want is whether it improves actually improves the outcome of patients with HSV encephalitis.”

“Aciclovir is the standard treatment for anyone with HSV encephalitis. However, despite treatment, some patients are left with significant loss of memory among may other difficulties.

“If we find that dexamethasone does improve the recovery of patients it could revolutionise the treatment of HSV encephalitis.”

In total, 94 patients were recruited for the study which was led by the Brain Infections Team at the University of Liverpool, in collaboration with the Walton Centre and Encephalitis International.

The research team divided the patients into two groups – one that received dexamethasone four times a day for four days and the other that did not.

Both groups also received aciclovir as part of their treatment.

Professor Solomon, who is President of Encephalitis International, added: “We are very grateful to everyone who has been involved in this study, from the patients, through to the study nurses, research and development departments, and chief executives at the 44 different sites across the UK.

“The final assessment of patient outcomes will be in six months’ time and then we will write it up the results and reveal our findings at the Encephalitis Conference at the end of November in London.”

“It will be fantastic to know whether dexamethasone really does improve the outcomes for patients with herpes simplex virus encephalitis.”

Dr Ava Easton, Chief Executive of the Encephalitis International, said: “It was an exciting moment when this study was first announced several years ago and to be this close to the finishing line is an even better feeling. This is a treatment which we hope has the potential to change the lives of countless patients for the better around the world and underlines why we are determined to support encephalitis research wherever we can.”

Page Created: 23 November 2023
Last Modified: 28 November 2023
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