Tag Archives: TSC research

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 events 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 Lis 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 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 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 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 13: TSC Global Awareness Month in the Age of COVID-19



In episode 13 of TSC Now, host Dan Klein celebrates TSC Awareness Month and one full year of podcasting by once again reaching out to some of the Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance’s international partners with the help of Katie Smith, TS Alliance Director of Government and Global Affairs, to see how they are recognizing TSC Global Awareness Day on May 15 without being able to meet in person, and how they are supporting those with tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) and their loved ones during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

First, we speak to Helen Willacy (02:25), President and Co-Founder of TSC NZ in New Zealand. She discusses the unique challenges TSC families face trying to get access to medication, how the pandemic has allowed for expanded use of telemedicine, and how they are connecting with families online. We also talk about how New Zealand was able to stop the spread of the virus quickly and is now beginning to re-open.You can connect with TSC NZ at the links below.

Next, we catch up with Inna Korov and Carol Hoffman of the Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance of Israel (11:48), the TS Alliance’s first global affiliate. They share how physicians have been able to share resources with families via Zoom in Hebrew and how those with TSC have connected and comforted each other through WhatsApp. You can connect with the TS Alliance at the links below.

We finish our world tour by talking to Luke Langlands (20:23), Head of Communications and Engagement at the UK Tuberous Sclerosis Association (UK TSA). He shares the tough, but necessary actions the organization has taken to ensure its long-term existence and allow them to continue to offer critical services to those affected by TSC throughout the UK. He also talks about the incredible response they’ve seen from their online events and how they are preparing for a staggered re-opening in the future. Learn more about UK TSA, the 2020 International TSC Research Conference postponement, and their Outlook meeting at the links below.

The episode concludes by highlighting Ryan and Andrea Beebe (35:28), whose Getting Saucy with Parker B Fundraiser has raised over $50,000 during the TSC Awareness Month of Caring. They share how they came up with the concept for the fundraiser, what have been some of the better reactions of those participating and why they think it has been so successful. There is still time to support their fundraiser and help them smash their goal even more, learn more at the link below.

Resources and Links
TSC NZ Website: https://www.tsc.org.nz/
TSC NZ resources on COVID-19: https://www.tsc.org.nz/post/coronavirus-and-tsc-information-for-the-tsc-community
TSC NZ on Twitter: https://twitter.com/tsc_nz
TSC NZ on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TSCNZ/

DEA World Forums: COVID-19 Management & TSC co-hosted with TSC International (TSCi) and the European Tuberous Sclerosis Complex Association (E-TSC): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xwj2PiZ6gik&t=5s
DEA World Forums: How the Consensus Guidelines Improve Treatment and Care for Individuals with TSC co-hosted with TSC International (TSCi) and the European Tuberous Sclerosis Complex Association (E-TSC): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-NIgzW8Ucv0&t=3s

TS Alliance of Israel Website: http://tsc.org.il/
TS Alliance of Israel COVID-19 resources, including a recording of their webinar with Dr. Tal Gilboa: http://tsc.org.il/PAGE30.asp
TS Alliance of Israel on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/tsc.org.il/

UK TSA Website: https://tuberous-sclerosis.org/
Updated Information on the 2020 International TSC Research Conference: https://tuberous-sclerosis.org/for-professionals/2020-conference/
UK TSA COVID-19 resources: https://tuberous-sclerosis.org/news-coronavirus-tsc/
Outlook 2020 Virtual Meeting Session Recordings: https://tuberous-sclerosis.org/outlook-virtual-2020-sessions/
UK TSA on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thetsauk
UK TSA on Twitter: https://twitter.com/UKTSA

Getting Saucy With Parker B Fundraiser: https://www.facebook.com/donate/642664029849293/10106189288438264/
Getting Saucy Interview on Delmarva Life: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OIuMaHaVQGs&fbclid=IwAR3WFik6v24Rt0ZvKpgsdzr4drBO5mI9OJ89t-QhqMdObdibFUXjS4WnqHg

TSC Awareness Month of Caring Website: https://give.tsalliance.org/campaign/tsc-global-awareness-day-of-caring/c281515

This episode was sponsored by: