Tag Archives: medical research

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 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 20: The 2021 Virtual March on Capitol Hill



In the first episode of TSC Now, host Dan Klein dives deep on the upcoming Virtual March on Capitol Hill taking place March 1-5, 2021. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the TS Alliance has decided to protect our volunteers by holding the march virtually. The March on Capitol Hill is the TS Alliance’s annual effort to advocate for continued funding for the Tuberous Sclerosis Complex Research Program (TSCRP) a subset of the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program at the Department of Defense. Through these efforts $97 million has been allocated for the TSCRP since 2001 and last year our advocates successfully advocated for an increase in the annual appropriation to $8 million. If you are interested in volunteering please send an email to grc@tsalliance.org.

First, Dan spoke with Chip Burkhalter (02:13), a parent and TS Alliance Board Member, who came to the March on Capitol Hill for the first time last year. He shares how he first got involved, and why he believes getting connected and volunteering is so important after getting a TSC diagnosis. They also discuss how the TS Alliance advocates have been able to garner bipartisan support for TSCRP funding even in the most partisan environments.

Next, Dan talks to Kaushal Asrani, MBBS, PhD (16:09), a Research Associate in the Department of Pathology, at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He talks about his research to understand whether lysosomal biogenesis is a potential driver of tumorigenesis and therapeutic target in tuberous sclerosis, from which initial results will be published later this year. They also discuss how TSCRP funding has been pivotal to his work and how connecting with families at last year’s event provides motivation to continue to discover new therapies.

Finally, Dan catches up with Sara Chieffo (25:30), a parent, TS Alliance Board Member and Chair of the Government Relations Committee. She shares what motivated her to get involved in government advocacy, how our volunteers can be effective virtually this year, and why you should get involved too.

Resources and Links
Learn about the TS Alliance’s Government Advocacy Program: https://www.tsalliance.org/engage/government-advocacy/
Learn more about the TSCRP: https://cdmrp.army.mil/tscrp/default
Read an abstract of Dr. Asrani’s TSCRP-funded project:https://cdmrp.army.mil/search.aspx?LOG_NO=TS180078
Meet Dr. Asrani’s Team at Johns Hopkins: http://labs.pathology.jhu.edu/lotan/our-team/
Learn about what goes into our advocacy efforts by enrolling in TSC Academy, the TS Alliance’s e-learning platform: www.tscacademy.org


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 17: Gene Therapy in TSC



In episode 17 of TSC Now, host Dan Klein talks to Xandra Breakefield, PhD, Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School and a geneticist, specializing in neurology & tadiology at Massachusetts General Hospital. Dr. Breakefield’s research focuses on gene therapy in preclinical mouse models of TSC in which the TSC1 or TSC2 gene are missing. By introducing the missing gene into the bloodstream via an adeno-associated virus (AAV) vector, Dr. Breakefield has been able to normalize brain structures and extend the lifespan to almost normal length in mouse models of both TSC1 and TSC2. This research was funded in part by grants through the Tuberous Sclerosis Complex Research Program (TSCRP), demonstrating how funds appropriated because of the tireless advocacy during the March on Capitol Hill has meaningfully advanced TSC research. They discuss how AAV vector technology is already being used in other diseases, what are the potential benefits of gene therapy in TSC over current treatment options, and how to transition from ongoing preclinical trials to future clinical trials.

Resources and Links
Read more about Dr. Breakefield’s Research: https://cdmrp.army.mil/tscrp/research_highlights/19breakefield_highlight
Register now for the final Virtual TSC & LAM Conference and view tracks from the previous two: https://www.tsalliance.org/news/join-us-for-the-2020-virtual-tsc-lam-conference-series/
Visit the Virtual Exhibit Hall: https://www.tsalliance.org/virtual-exhibit-hall/
Learn more about a clinical study for individuals with TSC who contracted COVID-19: https://www.tsalliance.org/tsc-matters/have-you-or-your-loved-one-with-tsc-been-diagnosed-with-covid-19-2/


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/


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 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