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Epilepsy.com Reports from AES
Philadelphia – December 1, 2007: The nation’s largest epilepsy conference was held by the American Epilepsy Society (AES) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania from November 30 to December 4, 2007. There were close to 4,000 physicians, researchers, nurses and other health care professionals attending, according to Brian Litt, MD, Chair of the AES Scientific Committee who hosted the AES Press Conference.
The meetings focused on Special Interest Groups, Awards, The Hoyer Lecture, Hosted Poster sessions, Plenary Sessions, and Comprehensive Reviews.
Warren Lammert, Co-Founder and Chairman of the Epilepsy Therapy Project (ETP) is keenly interested in AES as a showcase of new research and as an opportunity to visit with the broad community of academic and industry investigators working on new therapies. He said, “At the meeting, the ETP hosted a reception together with our Epilepsy Research Foundation partners the Epilepsy Foundation and the NYU Finding a Cure for Epilepsy and Seizures philanthropy at which we honored our most recent New Therapy Grant awardees.”
Warren and ETP Vice President of Development Orrin Devinsky, MD, also coordinated the AES Translational Research special interest group meeting on the Development of New Antiepileptic Drugs. ETP Vice President of Research Jacqueline French, MD, hosted a meeting of the new Epilepsy Study Consortium, which is moving forward with several innovative proof-of-principle studies of promising therapies. Finally, the ETP hosted a board dinner where new strategies were discussed to accelerate the development of new therapies.
Warren Lammert noted, “This year’s AES annual meeting highlighted ongoing progress in a range of new therapy initiatives that have the opportunity to benefit the majority of epilepsy patients who now live with either continuing seizures or unacceptable side-effects. Our meetings with academics and industry participants reinforced the reality that big pharma is moving away from epilepsy. The university labs and smaller companies who are investing in new therapies very much need both financial support and the development expertise resident in the ETP scientific and business advisory boards. Our opportunity and responsibility to build our own capabilities to support the research and development community were underlined at this meeting.”
Joyce Cramer, President of ETP added: “We are always looking for fresh ideas and work with young investigators to help them refine their projects with grants, and introduce them to investors who can support development of new drugs and devices to stop or prevent seizures.”
We present here an overview of sessions that will be reported on in greater detail throughout the month:
Translational Research: Development of Novel Antiepileptic Drugs (AEDs): Challenges, Incentives and Recent Advances
The speaker’s discussed: Why do we need third generation AEDs; hurdles in developing novel AEDs; incentives; overview of molecules currently in clinical development; and improving clinical development – lessons from the past and ideas from the future. Coordinators were Orrin Devinsky, MD, and Warren Lammert.
The speakers, who were co-authors on a recent paper, “Development of new antiepileptic drugs: challenges, incentives, and recent advances,” included Emilio Perucca, MD, PhD, Department of Internal Medicine and Therapeutics, University of Pavia, Italy; Jacqueline French, MD, Department of Neurology, New York University, and Meir Bialer, PhD, School of Pharmacy, Hebrew University, Jerusalem. The article appeared in the September 2007 issue of Lancet Neurology, http://neurology.thelancet.com.
At the end of the meeting, Joyce Cramer said: “We want to encourage anyone with a novel compound to get involved with ETP and move ideas from academic benches to companies that will move the research forward and get it patients more quickly.”
The Judith Hoyer Lecture
The Hoyer Lecture is an effort to talk to patients, families, and physicians about epilepsy. The speaker was introduced by Story C. Landis, PhD, Director, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. The guest lecturer was Joan K. Austin, DNS, RN, Distinguished Professor at the School of Nursing, Indiana University. She pointed out that Judy Hoyer was “a well known and highly regarded early childhood educator whose dream was to improve the lives of young children.” The lecture series commemorates Judith Hoyer’s commitment to helping families cope with epilepsy and promote a better quality of life. She herself had epilepsy and participated fully in life and enjoyed a quality of life not often shared by all those with epilepsy.
Professor Austin also talked about co-morbidities, noting that “these can be more problematic than the seizures themselves and can contribute to problems in living that many people with epilepsy experience; that is, unemployment / underemployment, social isolation, and stigma.”
The Tuberous Sclerosis Society presented a poster at the Hoyer Reception, and the posters from epilepsy.com included one with Chanda Gunn, our spokesperson, and another with Cynthia Folio, PhD and her daughter, Lydia.
AES Special Recognition Awards
AES Special Recognition Awards went to Edward B. Bromfield, MD, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, MA who received the J. Kiffin Penry Excellence in Epilepsy Care Award; Ilo E. Leppik, MD, Director of Research at MINCEP Epilepsy Care, Minneapolis MN, and a member of epilepsy.com, who received the Lennox Award; and Martha Morrell, MD, Department of Neurology, Stanford University, and Chief Medical Officer, Neuropace, who received the AES Service Award. Also, Thomas P. Sutula, MD, PhD, was named the 2007 William G. Lennox Lecturer.
Major Sessions Highlights Presented at a Press Conference
A press conference sponsored by AES and the Epilepsy Foundation included speakers from three major symposia: Generic Antiepileptic Drug Substitution; Adolescent Epilepsy and Hormone Influence: Possible Interaction; and Post-Traumatic Epilepsy in Brain Injured War Veterans. Attached is an October interview with Dr. Dichter on this topic.
Two posters at the conference focused on epilepsy.com. Patty Shafer, RN, MSN, hosted “Web Site Surveys of Patient Concerns, Experiences and Needs using epilepsy.com,” and “Online Information Preference of Epilepsy Patients and Healthcare.” A third poster highlighted the Health Outcomes in Pregnancy and Epilepsy Project.
There was also a press conference from the Epilepsy Foundation regarding a survey that was undertaken with three key objectives: measuring patient attitudes, identifying perceptions and knowledge gaps, and determining ways to improve education. To view the results please click here.
Steven C. Schachter, MD, Editor-in-Chief of epilepsy.com and first vice-president of the AES, was guest for book signings celebrating the publication of the Brainstorms series (Oxford University Press) and Behavioral Aspects of Epilepsy: Principles & Practice (Demos).
Joyce Cramer noted, “We had an excellent presence during the American Epilepsy Society: Our booth in the Exhibit Hall attracted many people where Kim and Dianna could introduce them to new features in the newly re-launched website. Jackie French and I participated in a workshop on animal models for testing antiepileptic drugs. We were co-sponsors with other epilepsy organizations of the Hoyer Lecture given by the past-president of AES. And we hosted the Epilepsy Research Foundation award ceremony where we honored the 3 current grant recipients (trigeminal nerve stimulation, NPY gene transfer, T-type calcium channel drug).”
We will be bringing you more reports which will be posted here.
Edited by Steven C. Schachter, MD
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