Tag Archives: clinical research

Episode 39: Inspiring a World TSC Community



In a special two-part episode of TSC Now, host Dan Klein recaps the 2022 World TSC Conference, which was held in Dallas, Texas July 28-31, 2022. In part two, Dan explores the history of tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) conferences and speaks to inspiring leaders who have shaped the TSC Alliance’s past and will continue to shape it’s future.

On Saturday, July 30, 2022, during the Blue Night Dinner at the 2022 World TSC Conference, Dr. Michael and Janie Frost were presented the TSC Champion Award. Michael and Janie Frost have both devoted their careers and lives to helping individuals and their families affected by TSC.

Dr. Frost is a board-certified child neurologist and epileptologist.  He was a founding team member of Minnesota Epilepsy Group in 1991 and established the Upper Midwest TSC Clinic Without Walls after meeting Dr. John Hulbert at a TSC Alliance research conference in 2002. During his tenure as Co-Director of the TSC Clinic, he served as an investigator on several pivotal clinical trials including Afinitor, which led to its approval for treating SEGAs in 2010; Epidiolex that led to its approval in 2020; and the current PREVeNT Trial, the first preventative clinical trial for epilepsy in the United States.  In 2006, Minnesota Epilepsy Group was one of two pilot sites for the TSC Natural History Database.  Additionally, Dr. Frost served on the Clinical Consensus Group in 1998 to help establish the original TSC Clinical Consensus Guidelines and continued this role through two additional revisions with a special expertise in comprehensive and coordinated care.  Dr. Frost continues to provide his guidance as a member of the TSC Alliance Professional Advisory Board.

Janie Frost is a trained epilepsy nurse. She served as a member of the TSC Alliance Board of Directors from 2006-2011 and as Secretary in 2009.  With her expertise in clinical care, she helped organize the 1999 (Washington, DC) and 2001 (San Diego) National Family Conferences and Chaired the National and World TSC Conferences in 2006 (Chicago), 2014 (Washington, DC) and 2018 (Dallas).  These conferences are among the most prolific gatherings of the global TSC community and were successful because of her outstanding leadership and dedication.  Janie also generously served on the planning committee for the Minnesota-based Sound Bites events as well as the 35th, 40th and 45th TSC Alliance anniversary galas.

Prior to Blue Night Dan caught up with the Frosts (01:42). They talked about how family conferences have changed since the 1980s, what makes the TSC community and TSC Alliance unique in our ability to advance research and inspire others to join our cause, how they first got involved in TSC research, and what advice they would give to new parents at the start of their TSC journey.

Then, Dan catches up with Preston Fitzgerald (23:23). Preston served as a Future Leader during the 2021-2022 school year and in that role he and his cohort organized webinars and provided support to other young adults with TSC. Preston was attending the World TSC Conference for the first time and shares how strange it is meeting people in person after several years of virtual interaction during the COVID-19 pandemic, what his plans are now that he has graduated from college magna cum laude, and what advice he gives to other young adults living with TSC.

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Episode 38: Galvanizing a World TSC Community



In a special two-part episode of TSC Now, host Dan Klein recaps the 2022 World TSC Conference, which was held in Dallas, Texas July 28-31, 2022. In part one Dan talks to two inspiring and visionary leaders in the tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) community.

On Thursday, July 28, during the opening of the 2022 World TSC Conference in Dallas, the Ramesh and Kalpana Bhatia Family Foundation announced a new collaboration with the TSC Alliance, working together to uncover biomarkers, test new treatments and connect researchers with families to better address TSC-associated neuropsychiatric disorders (TAND), which impact nearly everyone living with tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC). The $2.5 million foundational gift is the largest single donation in the TSC Alliance’s history.

Dan first chats with Anita Bhatia, Executive Director of the Ramesh and Kalpana Bhatia Family Foundation, who announced the transformational investment to the TSC community at the conference (02:25). They discuss what it was like to announce the partnership in Dallas, what motivates her family’s generosity and how she hopes this investment will accelerate research on TSC-associated neuropsychiatric disorders (TAND) to develop new treatments and educate physicians and individuals affected by TSC so they can be better advocate for high quality care.

This new funding will create “Anya’s Accelerator,” which will focus on furthering TAND translational research. TAND includes a wide range of cognitive, behavioral and psychiatric challenges linked to the disease’s effect on brain function. The three-year “Anya’s Accelerator” research program will focus on three major goals:

  1. Developing quantifiable patient-reported outcomes for the most impactful aspects of TAND utilizing the combined expertise of individuals and families living with TSC and clinical researchers;
  2. Identifying biomarkers and predictors of specific aspects of TAND through collaborative and inclusive analysis of existing samples and data; and
  3. Improving the translatability of and testing candidate drugs in TAND-relevant animal models by incorporating biomarkers or predictors relevant to those identified in humans.

Next, Dan catches up with Pete Crino, MD, PhD, Chair of the TSC Alliance Board of Directors and the Clinic Director at the TSC Center of Excellence at the University of Maryland Medical Center (21:11). They talk about how conferences like the World TSC Conference are conduits for both the community to form new connections and get more involved in the organization, but also for researchers and clinicians to foster new collaborations and explore new avenues of research. Dr. Crino also shares why the TSC community is a vital partner in advancing TSC research and how with the support of the community and a dedicated corps of researchers and clinicians, and the infrastructure developed by the TSC community to support research, a cure for TSC is within reach.

If you weren’t able to join us in Dallas at the World TSC Conference, conference session recordings will be made available on our YouTube channel in early 2023.

Resources and Links

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Episode 37: The MILED Trial and the Future of LAM Research



In this episode of TSC Now, host Dan Klein celebrates Worldwide LAM Awareness Month (#WWLAM) and raises awareness of lymphanhgioleiomyomatosis (LAM) and a pivotal clinical trial in LAM that is enrolling right now.

Dan interviews Frank McCormack, MD, Professor and Director of the Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine at University of Cincinnati and former Scientific Director of The LAM Foundation for 25 years. Dr. McCormack is the lead investigator for the Multicenter Interventional Lymphangioleiomyomatosis Early Disease (MILED) Trial, designed to answer the question of whether we should be starting sirolimus at low doses earlier in the course of LAM, before symptoms develop and while lung function is still normal, similar to the manner in which we treat diabetes and high blood pressure early to prevent future heart and kidney complications..

Dr. McCormack shares how the previous MILES trial which led to the approval of sirolimus for the treatment of LAM in 2015 gave women a safe and effective treatment and created the foundation for the current trial looking at whether earlier intervention may potentially prevent serious loss of lung function for women with LAM. He shares the eligibility criteria for the trial, the risks and benefits of participation and how those interested in participating can enroll. He also discusses the future of LAM research and how new tests, preclinical models and drug candidates are needed to accelerate therapies that don’t just impede the growth of LAM cells, but actually kills the cells to help restore lost lung function.

Researchers are currently seeking 10 additional participants for the MILED Trial.

You may be eligible if you:

  • Are an adult woman with LAM
  • Have an FEV1 greater than 70% predicted
  • Are not currently taking sirolimus

During the study, participants will:

  • Attend 8 study visits over 2 years (about one visit every 4 months)
  • Complete blood tests, a physical exam, and pulmonary function tests at visits
  • Answer questions about breathing, fatigue and quality of life
  • Take one capsule every day (1 mg sirolimus or a sugar pill) throughout the study
  • Record their pill taking and any side effects in an electronic diary

Participants will receive:

  • Physical exams, pulmonary function tests, a chest x-ray, and laboratory tests free of charge
  • Study drug (either 1 mg sirolimus or placebo) throughout the study
  • Reimbursement for travel expenses to attend each study visit

To get more information or to see if you may be eligible, please contact Susan McMahan Sellers, BSN, RN at SUSAN.MCMAHAN@UC.EDU or by calling 513-558-4376.

Resources and Links

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Episode 35: The Past, Present and Future of Autism Research in TSC



In this episode of TSC Now, host Dan Klein recognizes World Autism Month by taking a deep dive on the past, present and future of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) research in TSC. Dan talks to Shafali Jeste, MD, Chief of Neurology and Las Madrinas Chair at the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles and Professor of Neurology and Pediatrics at Keck School of Medicine of USC.

Dr. Jeste shares what first sparked her interest in autism and her early work on the characterization of autism at Boston Children’s Hospital, subsequent studies looking for biomarkers of autism, and how the discovery of those biomarkers paved the way for current early intervention studies, including the JASPER Early Intervention for Tuberous Sclerosis Complex (JETS) Study. She also talks about how the JETS Study pivoted to remote participation to help enrollment, and how researchers need to do more to reduce barriers for clinical trials and recruit diverse participation.

Enrollment is ending soon on the JETS Study, learn more about the study and how to participate here: https://www.jetsstudy.org/

Register now for the 20th Anniversary Step Forward to Cure TSC® Global Hybrid Walk-Run-Ride on May 14-15, 2022! 

As part of the weekend’s festivities we will be hosting three in-person events at West Chester, PA; Carrollton, TX; and Irwindale, CA! Simply choose the location you’d like to attend when you register. You can also participate virtually in your neighborhood, around your house or wherever you are!

Learn more at stepforwardtocuretsc.org.

You don’t want to miss the  2022 World Tuberous Sclerosis Complex (TSC) Conference, July 28-31, 2022, at the Hilton Anatole Hotel in Dallas, TX, co-hosted by Tuberous Sclerosis Complex International (TSCi). The conference will bring together 1,000 participants from around the globe, including families and individuals with TSC, caregivers, healthcare professionals, researchers, a wide array of exhibitors and others. Register by June 1, 2022 to get the best price!

Register Today!


Episode 34: Celebrating 20 Years of Comedy for a Cure



In this episode of TSC Now, host Dan Klein recognizes the 20th Anniversary Comedy for a Cure® on Sunday, April 3 at the Avalon in Hollywood, California! To kick off the celebration, Dan learns about the past and present of this amazing event from some dedicated volunteers, and interviews one of this year’s honorees.

First, Dan talks to the very funny Craig Shoemaker (0:52), who serves on the Comedian Committee and helps book comedians for the event every year. Craig shares how he first got involved with the event, how this show is different from other comedy shows, how he pitches the show to prospective comedians and what ultimately gets them to stay involved year after year.

Then, Dan talks to Lisa Szilagyi (10:49), a TSC Alliance volunteer and mother to a young adult with TSC. She shares how she first got connected to the Southern California TSC community, where the idea for hosting a comedy fundraiser came from and how Comedy for a Cure has evolved over the years.

Finally, Dan talks to Jo Anne Nakagawa (21:34), TC Alliance Director of Clinical Projects and TSC Clinic Liaison. She shares how she first got involved in the pivotal vigabatrin study at UCLA, how she found her way to the TSC Alliance and what she’s most proud of accomplishing while with the organization. Jo Anne will be honored with the TSC Champion Award for her steadfast commitment to the TSC community for nearly three decades.

Learn more about this year’s Comedy for a Cure at www.ComedyforaCure.org.


Episode 32: The 2022 World TSC Conference



In the first episode of TSC Now in 2022, host Dan Klein provides an overview of the upcoming 2022 World TSC Conference, co-hosted by Tuberous Sclerosis Complex International (TSCi), which will be held July 28-31, 2022 and will bring together 1,000 participants from around the globe, including families and individuals with TSC, caregivers, healthcare professionals, researchers, a wide array of exhibitors, and others. Thank you to Title Sponsor Jazz Pharmaceuticals and Presenting Sponsor Nobelpharma for making this incredible conference possible.

Dan interviews Shelly Meitzler, Director, Community Education & Resources at the TSC Alliance® and Co-Chair of the conference about how the conference is structured, what sorts of topics will be covered, what social events are happening at the conference and how people can participate both in person and remotely. Shelly also shares why she thinks this is one of the most important events the TSC Alliance hosts and reflects on some of her favorite moments from the last World TSC Conference in 2018.

Conference registration is now open, register today! The early bird registration deadline is June 1, 2022. Also, be sure to book your room with the Hilton Anatole through our link to get our special rate.

Thanks to the generous support from the Foglia Family Foundation and the TSC Alliance Endowment Fund to the Bcureful Travel Fund, the TSC Alliance will provide a limited number of scholarships in memory of Ken Johnson to individuals or families who might otherwise not be able to attend the 2022 World TSC Conference. Scholarship applications are available hereAll applications are due by March 1, 2022.

Resources and Links:


Episode 31: The Present and Future of TSC & LAM Research



In the final episode of TSC Now in 2021, host Dan Klein recaps the 2021 Virtual International TSC & LAM Research Conference: Driving Discoveries Beyond Boundaries, presented by Greenwich Biosciences and the Rothberg Institute of Childhood Diseases and co-hosted by the TSC Alliance® and The LAM Foundation. The conference brought together 179 people from 18 countries including researchers with a wide array of specialties and representing everything from basic to clinical science, who took part in plenary sessions, oral presentations, posters, and discussions around cross-cutting topics, including big data and clinical translation.

Dan chats with conference co-chairs Nishant Gupta, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Cincinnati, Director of the LAM Clinic Network, and Scientific Director of the LAM Foundation, and Rebecca Ihrie, PHD, Associate Professor of Cell and  Developmental Biology and Neurosurgery at Vanderbilt University about their impressions of the conference overall, what topics they found most interesting and how the TSC and LAM research community can build off the momentum of the conference and foster the next generation of TSC and LAM researchers. Dan also asks them what areas of TSC and LAM research they find most exciting and what they think the future holds for the field.

Resources and Links:


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