Tag Archives: clinical research

Episode 26: The Road to Newborn Screening in TSC



In Episode 26 of TSC Now, host Dan Klein takes a deep dive into one of the newer and exciting frontiers in TSC research: Newborn Screening. Last Fall, the TSC Alliance hosted an Innovation Workshop that brought together TSC researchers, newborn screening experts and other nonprofits with experience advocating for other diseases to be included in the newborn screening panel to start to set the road map forward. From that meeting the TSC Alliance put a call out to our community for dried blood spots from infants with TSC in certain states to help eventually validate an assay and earlier this month we put out a call for proposals to fund research to start developing that assay. To understand where we need to go and what will be necessary to get tuberous sclerosis complex added to the recommended uniform screening panel (RUSP), Dan spoke to two people who helped organize the Innovation Workshop.

First, Dan spoke to Hope Northrup, MD (01:42), Director of the Division of Medical Genetics, Professor in the Department of Pediatrics, and TSC Clinic Director at the McGovern Medical School at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. Drawing from an impressive career in both TSC and newborn screening, Hope provides a history of newborn screening both in general and in the United States, what they key tenets are to determining whether a disease should be included on the RUSP, and ultimately what the clinical and research benefits are to having TSC included.

Next, Dan spoke to TSC Alliance Chief Scientific Officer Steve Roberds, PhD (23:31), to better understand how newborn screening fits into the larger research efforts of the organization, what steps we have taken to date to move this process forward, and what potential hypotheses we are hoping to test through new research funding. Steve also shares what the timeline and next steps are for both researchers and advocates once an effective and sensitive assay is in place.

The TS Alliance is Seeking Historical Dried Blood Spots and Cord Blood from Individuals with TSC for Newborn Screening Assay Development. Was your child with TSC born in Michigan, New York, Texas, or California? The TSC Alliance is actively seeking access to newborn dried blood spots and stored cord blood from babies born after 1985. If you are interested in donating samples that are potentially stored in your state to the TSC Alliance, please email biosample@tscalliance.org.

The TSC Alliance also recently announced a new funding opportunity for Newborn Screening (NBS) Assay Development. If you are a researcher interested in learning more about this opportunity and submitting a letter of intent you can learn more at www.tscalliance.org/grants. The deadline to submit an LOI is Monday, August 23.

Resources and Links


Episode 25: Lymphangioleiomyomatosis & Worldwide LAM Awareness Month (#WWLAM)



In Episode 25 of TSC Now, host Dan Klein recognizes Worldwide LAM Awareness Month (#WWLAM) by focusing on lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM), a rare lung disease affecting women that is characterized by an abnormal growth of smooth muscle cells, especially in the lungs, lymphatic system and kidneys. LAM is caused by mutations in the same gene(s) as TSC and is a common manifestation for women with TSC but can also occur sporadically with no other TSC manifestations. To help raise awareness of LAM on the last day of Worldwide LAM Awareness Day, this episode will focus exclusively on LAM, research being done to develop new treatments and ultimately a cure, and the organization that is leading the charge to improve the lives of women with LAM in the US.

First, Dan talks to Sue Sherman, MHA, Chief Executive Officer of The LAM Foundation (02:18). The LAM Foundation was founded in 1995 by a mother of a woman with LAM with a mission to urgently seeks safe and effective treatments, and ultimately a cure, for lymphangioleiomyomatosis through advocacy and the funding of promising research. They are dedicated to serving the scientific, medical and patient communities by offering information, resources and a worldwide network of hope and support. They discuss how The LAM Foundation has changed over the years, how their investment in research has helped pave the way for breakthroughs, how the organization pivoted during the COVID-19 pandemic, and how they are raising awareness of LAM during Worldwide LAM Awareness month.

Next, Dan talks to Hilaire Lam, PhD (14:22), Research Associate in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and an instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School. The ultimate goal of Dr. Lam’s research is to leverage mTORC1-driven mitochondrial alterations to uncover therapeutic targets for TSC and LAM. She shares more about the aims of her research, how she first became interested in LAM, what gaps exist in our understanding of LAM and how researchers are currently looking to address those outstanding questions to develop new therapies. She also discusses how she is motivated by women living with LAM and how their relentlessness inspires her to help find a cure.

Earlier this month in recognition of Worldwide LAM Awareness Month, the TSC Alliance hosted an e-webinar titled “LAM in TSC: Surveillance, Treatment and Research” presented by Souheil Y. El-Chemaly, MD, Clinical Director of the Center for LAM Research and Clinical Care at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. The webinar covered surveillance, management and treatment recommendations based on the latest consensus guidelines, clinical trials currently taking place and a look to the future of research in LAM. A recording of the presentation will be available on our e-webinars website soon at tscalliance.org/e-webinars.

Resources and Links

             


Episode 23: Autism Spectrum Disorder in TSC and TACERN



In Episode 23 of TSC Now, host Dan Klein recognizes World Autism Month and Autism Acceptance Month by learning more about autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC). ASD occurs in nearly 50% of children with TSC, significantly higher the rate in the general population (roughly 1% worldwide). Additionally, there is a very clear link between ASD and cognitive impairment in TSC.

To better understand the connection between autism and TSC, and how ongoing research can help expand our knowledge of autism not just in TSC, but more generally, Dan spoke to Mustafa Sahin, MD, PhD, (02:11) Director of both the Translational Neuroscience Center and the Multi-Disciplinary Tuberous Sclerosis Program at Boston Children’s Hospital, and Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Sahin is one of the Principal Investigators of the TSC Autism Center of Excellence Research Network, otherwise known as TACERN. TACERN is a coalition of five research hospitals: Boston Children’s Hospital, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, University of Alabama at Birmingham, University of California at Los Angeles and University of Texas at Houston. The group was formed in 2012 and received a grant from the NIH to better understand autism in TSC and to identify potential biomarkers that could predict what children were at higher risk of cognitive manifestations. From that initial grant 80 papers have been published on a wide range of discoveries in TSC. Dr. Sahin shares some of the discoveries from the last decade, how discoveries made in autism in TSC have wider implications for autism in general, the current progress on identifying biomarkers, and what questions remain.

Finally, we are officially two weeks away from the Step Forward to Cure TSC® Global Virtual Walk-Run-Ride on May 15 and 16, coinciding with TSC Global Awareness Day. This historic, world-wide event will bring together thousands of people from across the globe, all working together to champion the Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance’s efforts to fund groundbreaking research, offer critically needed support programs and increase awareness. Our goal is to raise $700,000 toward that mission, and there is still time for you to donate, register and fundraise to help us hit that goal. However you participate, your support makes a tangible difference in the lives of everyone with TSC. Learn the many ways you can get involved at www.stepforwardtocuretsc.org. Thank you to both the National and Local sponsors for championing this amazing event!

National Sponsors

Local Sponsors

Resources and Links


Episode 18: Understanding COVID-19’s Impact on Those with TSC & LAM



In episode 18 of TSC Now, host Dan Klein talks to Nishant Gupta, MD, Associate Professor in the Division of Pulmonology, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine at the University of Cincinnati where he serves as the Director of the Interstitial and Rare Lung Disease Program.

We discuss what researchers and clinicians have learned so far about how COVID-19 impacts those with TSC and LAM, what potential future vaccines mean for those affected, and how individuals with TSC and LAM who have already contracted COVID-19, confirmed by testing, can participate in an important Natural History Database study to help us better understand the risk and severity of the virus.

Learn more about the study here: https://www.tsalliance.org/tsc-matters/have-you-or-your-loved-one-with-tsc-been-diagnosed-with-covid-19-2/. If you or your loved one had COVID-19 confirmed by testing and do not go to one of the TSC Clinics listed or have questions, please contact Jo Anne Nakagawa at jnakagawa@tsalliance.org or 1-800-225-6872.

At the end of the podcast I shared some ways you can support the TS Alliance this holiday season and on #GivingTuesday on December 1. Here are four ways you can get involved:

  1. Create a #GivingTuesday Facebook Fundraiser (We created a guide on how to get started here: http://www.tsalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/Giving-Tuesday-Instructions-2020.pdf).
  2. Do your holiday shopping using Amazon Smile (We also have a helpful guide on getting started with Amazon Smile here: http://www.tsalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Setting-up-Amazon-Smile.pdf).
  3.  Make a donation using our #GivingTuesday Page

  4. Follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram and encourage your friends and family to follow us too! And while you’re at it, be sure to subscribe to TSC Now so you don’t miss future episodes.

Finally, December 1-7 is Infantile Spasms Awareness Week (ISAW), to learn more about infantile spasms and ISAW 2020 go to https://infantilespasms.org/.

Resources and Links
Check out all of the TS Alliance’s COVID-19 Resources: https://www.tsalliance.org/individuals-families/covid-19/
Dr. Gupta first shared his recommendations earlier this year during a DEA World Forum Webinar, which you can re-watch here: https://youtu.be/Xwj2PiZ6gik
Dr. Gupta presented an update on COVID-19 and LAM at the first Virtual TSC & LAM Conference in September, watch it now here: https://youtu.be/QmS_dQELzA8 


Episode 11: A #March4TSCresearch Recap & Update on COVID-19



In episode 11 of TSC Now, host Dan Klein recaps our annual March on Capitol Hill, which took place on March 4, 2020 in Washington, DC and brought together more than 100 volunteers from across the country to advocate for continued funding for the Tuberous Sclerosis Complex Research Program (TSCRP) at the Department of Defense. He then shares resources the TS Alliance has created to address the ongoing Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

First, Dan talks to Mark Vieth (2:04), Senior Vice President at Cavarocchi Ruscio Dennis Associates, who serves as a consultant for the TS Alliance’s advocacy efforts and helps prepare our volunteers for their meetings with their representatives. They discuss what goes on at the Training Dinner before March on Capitol Hill, what key messages volunteers should bring to their meetings, and why this effort has been so successful over the years.

Next, Dan interviews Bridget Britt (10:54), an advocate and mom from California. She shares why she advocates and how coming to March on Capitol Hill gives her strength and purpose.

Dan then talks to Sam Barth (15:42), a graduate student working in Kim Raab-Graham’s lab at Wake Forest University Medical School. Sam shares how the March on Capitol Hill provides meaningful context for the work he does in the lab and also discusses how the funding his mentor Kim received through the TSCRP helped generate new insights on TSC.

Dan then shares resources the TS Alliance has developed in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic (25:44), including a FAQ guide for parents and caregivers, resources for TSC medical professionals, and a schedule of upcoming webinars, virtual Town Halls and Open Forums. All of these resources can be found at tsalliance.org/COVID-19.

Finally, Dan continues his Get to Know the TS Alliance segment by talking to Justin Martucci (28:40), Development Services Manager at the TS Alliance. They talk about how Justin has spearheaded the TS Alliance database cleanup and transition to new platforms, what he does when he’s not in the office, and how he is managing working from home during the pandemic.

In the April episode of TSC Now, Dan will be diving deeper into how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the TSC community and he wants to hear from you! Leave a voicemail at (240) 638-4644 with your first name, where you are calling from and how the pandemic has affected you, and your call may be played on the April episode!

March on Capitol Hill Resources:
For more information on the Tuberous Sclerosis Complex Research Program (TSCRP), visit: https://cdmrp.army.mil/tscrp/default
To read about Dr. Kim Raab-Graham’s research funded by the TSCRP, visit: https://cdmrp.army.mil/tscrp/research_highlights/17graham_highlight
For more information on the TS Alliance’s Government Advocacy Program, visit: https://www.tsalliance.org/engage/government-advocacy/
If you are interested in participating in our government advocacy program, send us an email to grc@tsalliance.org.

COVID-19 Resources:
For all of the TS Alliance’s resources on COVID-19, visit: tsalliance.org/COVID-19
To download a FAQ guide for parents and caregivers, visit: http://www.tsalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/COVID-19-FAQ.pdf
For resources for TSC medical professionals, go to: https://www.tsalliance.org/covid-19-resources-for-tsc-medical-professionals/
To see a schedule and register for our upcoming webinars, visit: https://www.tsalliance.org/upcoming-covid-19-and-tsc-webinars-and-virtual-town-halls/
To find recordings of previous webinars, visit: https://www.tsalliance.org/covid-19-webinar-and-virtual-town-hall-recordings/


Episode 5: TSC Kidney Manifestations & Consensus Guidelines for Surveillance and Treatment



In episode 5 of TSC Now, Dan Klein talks to Dr. John Bissler, MD, Clinic Director of the Tuberous Sclerosis Complex Center of Excellence located at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, Director of Pediatric Nephrology at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, and the Medical Director of Nephrology at St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. They discuss common kidney manifestations of tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC), including renal cysts and renal angiomyolipoma (AML). The majority of individuals (greater than 80%) with TSC will develop some form of renal disease during their lifetime and renal-related disease is the most common cause of TSC-related death in adults, so they discuss the consensus guidelines for surveillance and treatment as it relates to kidney manifestations in TSC. They also discuss ongoing research to discover new treatments for AMLs and renal cysts.

To learn more about the kidney manifestations of TSC visit: https://www.tsalliance.org/about-tsc/signs-and-symptoms-of-tsc/kidneys/

To read about the general clinical consensus guidelines visit www.tsalliance.org/consensus. You can also read about the specific renal guidelines for TSC at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27504842.

Finally, to read Dr. Bissler’s paper on the reduction of post-embolization syndrome visit: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11979340.


Episode 3: The 2019 International TSC Research Conference



In the third episode of TSC Now, host Dan Klein, Director of Digital Platforms for the Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance, talks to the two co-chairs of the 2019 International TSC Research Conference: Changing the Course of TSC. Continue reading Episode 3: The 2019 International TSC Research Conference