Dravet Syndrome Foundation Announces 2020 Research Grant Awardees

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DSF is pleased to be funding two, 2-year research grants and an additional 1-year postdoctoral fellowship.

The Dravet Syndrome Foundation (DSF) announced their 2020 grant awardees at their 11th annual DSF Research Roundtable. DSF is pleased to be funding two 2-year research grants and an additional 1-year postdoctoral fellowship. Said Executive Director, Mary Anne Meskis, “DSF is proud to have contributed nearly $5M to Dravet-specific research projects since our inception in 2009.”

The first 2-year, $150,000 grant award, entitled “Optimizing a novel SCN1A delivery approach for Dravet syndrome therapy” focuses on the development of genetic treatments for Dravet syndrome. The researchers on this project are Eric Kremer, PhD, Institut de Génétique Moléculaire de Montpellier; Moran Rubinstein, PhD, Tel Aviv University; and Ethan Goldberg, MD, PhD, University of Philadelphia/Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. While previous approaches have been limited by the large size of the SCN1A gene, the researchers propose a novel approach that uses a larger package, or “vector,” to deliver a healthy copy of the SCN1A gene to specific cells in the brain.

The second 2-year, $150,000 grant award, entitled “Brainstem glial control of respiration in a mouse model of Dravet syndrome” is investigating the mechanisms of sudden unexplained death in epilepsy (SUDEP). The primary investigator, Cameron S. Metcalf, PhD, University of Utah, is interested in how some of the support cells in the brain, called “glia,” respond to seizures and contribute to changes in the brain that may impact the risk for SUDEP.

The one-year, $50,000 Postdoctoral Fellowship this year, entitled “Seizure prediction and detection in a mouse model of Dravet syndrome via machine learning” is for a grant to develop methods that would predict seizures from video recordings. Ala Somarowthu, PhD, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia will leverage machine learning techniques and a mouse model of Dravet syndrome to develop approaches for the prediction and detection of seizures.

The Dravet Syndrome Foundation awards annual grants through a competitive application and review process. Said DSF Research Coordinator, Dr. Veronica Hood, "DSF is particularly pleased to be funding three grants that address areas of critical need for the Dravet syndrome community, including genetic treatments, sudden unexplained death in epilepsy (SUDEP), and accurate detection of seizures. Funding of basic research projects is the first step in increasing our understanding of the underlying causes of Dravet syndrome and related epilepsies, and is paramount to the development of therapeutic approaches to managing and treating disease."

About Dravet syndrome
Dravet Syndrome is a catastrophic form of epilepsy that begins in infancy. It is a debilitating, life-long condition. Patients experience frequent seizures, poor seizure control, developmental delays and other associated health issues.

About Dravet Syndrome Foundation
Dravet Syndrome Foundation is a 501(3)c nonprofit organization whose mission is to aggressively raise funds for Dravet syndrome and related epilepsies; to support and fund research; increase awareness; and to provide support to affected individuals and families. Since its inception in 2009, DSF has awarded almost $5M in research grant awards and over $176K in patient assistance grants.

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