Symposium celebrates 30 years of epilepsy research

By By Patrick Muir

By Patrick Muir

Partners for Progress, a symposium held Wednesday at the Heritage Center, celebrated 30 years of Epilepsy Research Wednesday at the Heritage Center.

The symposium brought together world experts on epilepsy research with a common goal to find better ways to treat and one day cure the disease that has been diagnosed in 40 million people worldwide.

“People here are among the world’s best scientists who are uncovering the causes of epilepsy. The exchange of infraction that will occur will help the ADD [Anticonvulsant Drug Development] program and the NIH [National Institutes of Health] advance the work in the fight against epilepsy,” said Hal Wolf, a professor emeritus, who has been doing his research at the U since 1976.

The development of better drugs has come a long way in the past 30 years. The ADD program has been able to screen more than 25,000 compounds. That’s an average of 800 compounds a year.

By screening compounds, researchers find new drugs that help treat the disease. Almost all of the drugs developed to treat epilepsy have come through the ADD program at the U.

“It’s amazing what they can do,” said Susan Axelrod, President of CURE, a non-profit organization that raises money for further research.

She has seen the benefits of this research firsthand. Susan’s daughter, who was diagnosed with epilepsy, suffered seizures for 18 years until the ADD found a compound to control her seizures for the past four years. Susan has led CURE efforts to raise more than $2.5 million for research.

Twenty-six innovative research grants have been awarded to researchers focusing on finding a cure through the organization’s efforts.

The U’s ADD program “ranks number one,” according to Jim Stables, a representative of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders.

In just the past 12 months, the ADD program has seen the advancement of two new compounds that will have a big impact on the treatment of epilepsy.

Jim Stables closed his speech with a bright look at the future, “Someday soon someone will be talking about the cure for epilepsy.”

The old Watson pharmaceutical building in Research Park will be the new home of the ADD program after being renovated to further expand the program’s ability to function.

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