Tag Archives: epilepsy

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.

This podcast is sponsored by:


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 33: Noema, Basimglurant and a New Clinical Trial for Seizures in TSC



In a very special early episode of TSC Now, host Dan Klein recognizes International #EpilepsyDay and the kickoff of the second annual Seizure Action Plan Awareness Week. In November 2020, a collaboration of three non-profit organizations, the TSC Alliance, Dravet Syndrome Foundation and Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome (LGS) Foundation, launched the Seizure Action Plan (SAP) Coalition to educate people with epilepsy, their caregivers and healthcare professionals about seizure emergency rescue protocols and the importance of personalized seizure action plans.  As part of this effort the group is recognizing Seizure Action Plan Awareness Week (#SAPAW2022) to coincide with International Epilepsy Awareness Day on February 14.

This month’s episode is sponsored by Noema Pharma and explores their clinical trial to treat seizures common in TSC. A Swiss biotech company, Noema, is investigating a novel substance which has shown some positive effects in laboratory models related to tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC). The substance is called basimglurant, and it affects the activity of glutamate, an important molecule used by many neurons to communicate with other neurons in the brain, by acting on a receptor for glutamate called mGluR5. The company is setting up clinical trials to test whether the effect seen in the laboratory may also be seen in people.

First, to learn more about basimglurant and preclinical experiments underpinning the upcoming clinical trial, Dan spoke to Ype Elgersma, Professor of Molecular Neuroscience, Head of Research in the Department of Clinical Genetics, and Director of the ENCORE Expertise Center for Neurodevelopment Disorders at the Erasmus Medical Center In The Netherlands; and John Kemp, Former Chief Scientific Officer at Noema (02:28). They share what metabotropic glutamate receptor 5, or mGluR5, is and how increased activity at mGluR5 may lead to epilepsy; how negative modulators of this overactivity may be used as a treatment for epilepsy in TSC, and how Dr. Mustafa Sahin of Harvard Medical School tested this hypothesis in TSC mouse models. Findings from this study was published in 2018 in Neuropsychopharmacology. 

Next, Dan spoke to Ali Mostajelean, MD, Associate Professor of Neurology, Director of the Epilepsy Service and Tuberous Sclerosis Clinic at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital; and George Garibaldi, Chief Medical Officer at Noema (07:55). They shared how Noema is using the findings in animal models as justification for a clinical trial and share how clinical studies using basimglurant for depression and Fragile X showed that the compound was safe in humans, albeit not as effective as researchers thought it would be in those disease states.

Finally, Dan spoke with Renata Lazarova, VP of Development, Pediatric Programs at Noema, and Steve Roberds, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer of the TSC Alliance (10:55), to learn what the clinical trial looks like, who can enroll, how Noema will determine whether the drug is efficacious and safe, and where people can find more information. Steve also talked about our partnership with Noema and how they worked with the TSC Alliance early on to solicit feedback from the TSC community and design a trial that both meets the needs of those with TSC and considers the quality of life of those participating.

Noema’s clinical study with their negative modulator of mGluR5 is currently participants across the US, Russia, Ukraine, Israel and Australia. For more information including the list of sites participating in the study, please contact Jo Anne Nakagawa at jnakagawa@tscalliance.org or (301) 562-9890.

Resources and Links
Learn more about International Epilepsy Day: https://internationalepilepsyday.org/
Learn more about the Seizure Action Plan Coalition and #SAPAW2022: https://seizureactionplans.org/
Learn more about epilepsy in TSC: https://www.tscalliance.org/about-tsc/signs-and-symptoms-of-tsc/brain-and-neurological-function/epilepsy-and-seizure-disorders/
Read an abstract of Dr. Sahin’s research looking at mGluR5 Modulation of Behavioral and Epileptic Phenotypes in a Mouse Model of Tuberous Sclerosis Complex: https://www.nature.com/npp/about?gclid=Cj0KCQiA34OBBhCcARIsAG32uvPcCBYuxzzlON-Xe9EikeYJD6XNNl8TDElaFiONa-02BSWFUv4w2voaAk6REALw_wcB

This episode is sponsored by:

Learn more about Noema Pharma: https://noemapharma.com/


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 30: Infantile Spasms Awareness Week 2021



In Episode 30 of TSC Now, host Dan Klein kicks of Infantile Spams Awareness Week 2021, an initiative from the Infantile Spasms Action Network (ISAN) that runs December 1-7. ISAN is a collaboration of 32 national and international entities, including the TSC Alliance, focused on raising awareness for infantile spasms, a devastating type of seizure that usually begins in children who are less than one year old and can lead to developmental delay.

This year in addition to raising awareness of IS to parents and caregivers, ISAN is redoubling our efforts to educate frontline physicians, including pediatricians and ER doctors, who might be the first person confronted with an IS case and who are key to elevating those cases to the appropriate specialists to ensure a quick diagnosis and start of treatment.

To better understand the challenges physicians may face when trying to diagnose IS and how ISAN might reach physicians with our messaging, Dan chats with Dr. John Mytinger (01:31), a pediatric neurologist at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and Assistant Professor of Clinical Pediatrics and Neurology at The Ohio State University College of Medicine. He shares why IS can be tough to diagnose, what the seizures look like, and how professors, doctors and advocates all play a role in educating medical professionals. He also discusses what parents should do if they suspect their child is having infantile spasms.

Throughout the week the TSC Alliance and other ISAN members will be posting about Infantile Spasms on our social media channels. Join the conversation and help spread awareness with #ISAW2021.

If you or someone you know suspects their child is having infantile spasms, remember the mnemonic STOP IS.
[S]ee the signs
[T]ake a video
[O]btain a diagnosis
[P]rioritize treatment

Time is brain. The faster a child is diagnosed and treated for infantile spasms, the less the potential for long-term neurological effects. Learn more about Infantile Spasms Awareness Week (Dec. 1–7) at www.infantilespasms.org.

Links and Resources


Episode 28: Comedy for a Cure® 2021!



In a very special episode of TSC Now, host Dan Klein provides a sneak peek of the 19.5 Annual Comedy for a Cure® on Sunday October 17 at 7:30 pm Eastern/ 4:30 pm Pacific! This will be a hybrid event, so if you live in Southern California and are fully vaccinated you can attend in-person at Feinstein’s at Vitello’s in Studio City, California. In person tickets are $75. Also, just like last year we will livestream the show so you can watch from the comfort of your couch! Virtual tickets are $25 per screen and we encourage you to invite your friends over and host a watch party. To help get you excited for the show, Dan spoke to the hosts and guests of this year’s event!

First, Dan talked with incredibly funny Jim O’Heir (02:17), who will be one of the hosts for Comedy for a Cure. Jim shares how he first got involved with the event in 2013 and didn’t know the name of the disease, why he continues to stay involved in any way he can, and how he connects with families with TSC that he meets at the event and online. He also sheds some light on how the Comedy Committee for the event works and makes an ultimatum for anyone not considering buying tickets to the event.

Next, Dan catches up with Wendy Liebman, the other host of the event (18:55). She shares how misplaced mail jump started her comedy career, what her experience was like competing on America’s Got Talent, and how she was able to secure the amazing lineup of comedians for the show. This year we will be honoring all the ways she has helped move our mission forward by awarding her with the TSC Champion award.

Finally, Dan spoke to Althea Grace (29:44), musician and TSC mom who burst on to the scene on American Idol Season 19.  Originally from Chicago, her journey with her two-year old daughter Lennon was highlighted and helped raise incredible awareness of TSC. She shares how her music was inspired by her experience in the hospital when her daughter needed a liver transplant, her road to getting a TSC diagnosis, and how being on the show helped her connect with other people affected by TSC across the country. For her efforts we will be honoring Althea with the Courage in Leadership Award and she will also be performing at this year’s event.

Get your Comedy for a Cure tickets now at www.comedyforacure.org!

Learn more about Althea Grace at https://altheagraceband.com/.


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 22: Overcoming Hurdles with Health Plans and Specialty Pharmacies



In Episode 22 of TSC Now, host Dan Klein explores overcoming hurdles in healthcare, specifically to help parents/caregivers and individuals with tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) navigate issues with access to medications, changes to their health plans and how to best communicate with specialty pharmacies. This episode is sponsored by Greenwich Biosciences.

Disclaimer: Greenwich Biosciences utilized Precision Value and Health’s services to gather and respond to the questions being discussed on this podcast. The opinions expressed are those of the speakers individually based on their experience and do not reflect the policies or positions of the speakers’ employers or of Greenwich Biosciences. The following content is for informational purposes only and does not guarantee access or coverage of any product. 

First, to provide some context on what access challenges can be like for individuals and families, Dan talked to Shelly Meitzler (01:40), TS Alliance Regional Program Manager East and mom to Ashlin and Mason with TSC.  Shelly shares about a recent challenging experience refilling a prescription for Ashlin earlier this year. She talks about where she hit roadblocks, how she felt navigating the insurance and pharmacy system, and how she ultimately got resolution. Her story highlights several common hurdles experienced by many families, including problems when switching insurance plans, not knowing when a prior authorization is required, trying to figure out who your care team is at your pharmacy, and finally dealing with a retail pharmacy versus a specialty pharmacy.

Then, to tackle common questions, some of which were mentioned in Shelly’s story, Dan speaks to two former payers, Hetty Lima and Kellie Rademacher from Precision Value and Health (17:44). Building off of their extensive pharmacy knowledge, Hetty and Kellie answer a number of questions members have when dealing with access issues, such as:

  • What do I need to do if my health plan changes?
  • What do I do when my medication is no longer covered by my insurance plan?
  • How do I navigate having two different health plans?
  • How do I know when a medication requires a prior authorization, step therapy, or has a quantity limit or any other type of rule or edit that could impact access?
  • Where can I find available resources if I need emergency access to my medications?

This conversation builds off of an E-Webinar from earlier this year, Overcoming Hurdles: Insurance, Scripts and Specialty Pharmacy, where Jeff Krol, VP of Market Access & Payer Strategy at Greenwich Biosciences, and Ashley Pounders, MSN, FNP, TS Alliance Director of Medical Affairs, provide useful tips on navigating the complex prescription insurance coverage, scripts and specialty pharmacy. We encourage you to re-watch the recording for more information and resources on this topic.

Finally, if you are at risk of running out of a medication for you or your loved one and need assistance, please contact us on our emergency line: (240) 463-7250. That number is available 9 AM to 9 PM Eastern and someone from our team can help.

Resources and Links

 

This episode was sponsored by:


Episode 19: Infantile Spasms Awareness Week (#ISAW2020)



In a very special early edition of TSC Now, host Dan Klein explores the topic of infantile spasms (IS) as Infantile Spasms Awareness Week (ISAW), held annually December 1-7 to raise awareness of IS with both parents/caregivers and frontline physicians, comes to a close. To learn more about infantile spasms go to www.infantilespasms.org.

First, Dan talks to Kelly Knupp, MD, Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Neurology at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus and member of Infantile Spasms Action Network (ISAN) (01:23). She discusses what infantile spasms are, what they look like and are sometimes misdiagnosed as, and why they are so serious to the cognitive development of babies. She also explains what tests need to be done to confirm a diagnosis, what first line treatments are available, and why early intervention is so important. Finally, she offers advice to parents who suspect their child might be having spasms, and urges all parents who are concerned to first take a video of the strange behavior to share with their doctor and then don’t delay in seeking care despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Then, Dan talks to Ashley Callahan of St. Augustine, Florida (14:53). In June when her daughter Kaylee was 4 months old, Ashely noticed Kaylee making strange repetitive eye movements, which prompted a trip to the emergency room despite the COVID-19 pandemic and eventually a diagnosis of infantile spasms. Ashley shares what led to the decision to take Kaylee to the emergency room, what it was like getting a diagnosis of IS, and how she has found support through groups online. She also shares her advice for other parents who may be worried about their child and encourages them to trust their instincts.

Throughout Infantile Spasms Awareness Week, the TS Alliance and other ISAN partners have made a coordinated effort to develop resources for families and to generate coverage of this important initiative. Below are some links to some of these resources and coverage of #ISAW2020. Our deepest thanks to everyone who helped raise awareness of infantile spasms this year.

Resources and Links


Episode 15: Managing Behaviors During COVID-19 (Part 2) + A New Partnership with SeizureTracker



In episode 15 of TSC Now, host Dan Klein continues exploring how to manage harmful and disruptive behaviors associated with TSC-associated neuropsychiatric disorders (TAND) during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Then he explores a new partnership between the TS Alliance and SeizureTracker and how it’s advancing both our understanding of TSC and epilepsy.

First, Dan talks with Tanjala Gipson, MD, Director of the TSC-Associated Neuropsychiatric Disorders Clinic at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital and Director of the Neurodevelopmental Disabilities Clinic at the Boling Center for Disabilities (01:20). She discusses what factors about the pandemic are causing TAND-related behaviors to be more frequent and severe, how parents can begin to address these behaviors, and what parents should do to manage their own anxiety and prepare for an extended period of time at home during the pandemic. She also answers questions from parents about how to deal with sleeplessness, emotional outbursts, and transitioning from one activity to another. See below for more TAND and COVID-related resources.

Then Dan chats with Rob Moss, creator and co-founder of SeizureTracker.com, and Gabrielle Rushing, PhD, Associate Director of Research at the Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance (24:33). They discuss a new data sharing partnership that will allow SeizureTracker users to connect their seizure data with the TS Alliance Natural History Database, how individuals with TSC can participate in the TSC Biosample Repository Project, and the role patients and patient-reported outcomes play in research and our understanding of TSC and epilepsy. They also talk about how SeizureTracker and the Natural History Database and TSC Biosample Repository are moving research forward and how these tools will continue to evolve in the future. Learn more about how you or your loved one can participate in the TSC Biosample Repository Project.

Resources
TS Alliance TAND web page featuring recordings of TAND webinars: https://www.tsalliance.org/about-tsc/signs-and-symptoms-of-tsc/brain-and-neurological-function/tand/
Managing Anxiety During COVID-19 Webinar Recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m4rHD0Zhdpc
TS Alliance COVID-19 & TSC Resources: https://www.tsalliance.org/individuals-families/covid-19/
TAND 101: The TAND Checklist Webinar Recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BXO9MopLg9k&feature=emb_logo

TS Alliance and SeizureTracker Partnership Announcement: https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/tuberous-sclerosis-alliance-and-seizure-tracker-partner-to-promote-data-sharing-and-biosample-collection-301079871.html?tc=eml_cleartime
Seizures and Tuberous Sclerosis Complex web page on SeizureTracker.com: https://www.seizuretracker.com/SeizureSuccess/TSC_Tuberous-Sclerosis-Complex/
TSC Biosample Repository and Natural History Database web page: https://www.tsalliance.org/individuals-families/biosample-repository-and-natural-history-database/