The American Epilepsy Society (AES) annual meeting was held in Philadelphia from December 4 to 8, 2015. As always, the ketogenic diet was discussed throughout the several days of this meeting, but this year was extremely exciting in terms of new research. As is often the case, the AES meeting on the off year between ketogenic diet conferences (next year is Banff: http://www.ketoconnect.org/) tend to be “busier” than when they are competing with the ketogenic diet conferences. Here are some of the highlights.
There were 17 posters on ketogenic diet research, both basic and clinical science. Posters were well-attended and I led a “walking tour” focusing on the ketogenic diet on Saturday, December 5. Some of the exciting posters:
- Research from Oliver and the team in Denver, Colorado, that a 2-day admission to start the diet was equally effective and better tolerated than a 3-day (more typical) admission.
- A poster from Appavu and colleagues from Phoenix, Arizona, about 10 children treated with the ketogenic diet for status epilepticus. Nine of them responded. For more about status epilepticus, see the “SIG” described below.
- Research from Doerrer and my team in Baltimore, Maryland, about retrying the ketogenic diet again (often years later) in people with continued seizures. Results showed that if it worked before, the diet often worked similarly again. Additionally, if it did not work years ago, outcomes were usually poor.
- A poster from Cervenka in Baltimore, Maryland, about using the diet alone (without medications) was also well-attended. She reported on 11 adults who either never were on medications before starting the modified Atkins diet or had stopped medications prior to beginning it. Results were excellent.
Ketogenic Diet Poster Walking Tour (poster presented by Sarah Doerrer PNP)
Special Interest Group (SIG)
On Sunday night, December 6, the annual ketogenic diet “special interest group” met. This is a 90-minute informal seminar coordinated by two researchers (this year, Dr. Christina Bergqvist and Tim Simeone) in which speakers present new findings. The theme for this year was status epilepticus, a condition for which the diet seems very effective and clinical trials are underway.
Several prominent investigators (Mackenzie Cervenka from Baltimore, Rima Nabbout from Paris, and Carla Fenton from Philadelphia) described their experiences, successes, challenges, and plans for clinical trials to the group. Find more information on status epilepticus.
Other researchers presented their preliminary studies, including work from Dr. Elizabeth Felton from Madison, Wisconsin, about the effects of dietary therapy on women: predominantly their menstrual pattern, as well as whether or not seizures start to become more related to menstrual cycles while on the diet. Stay tuned for final results.
The meeting otherwise did include mention of the ketogenic diet throughout – often discussed by epilepsy specialists in relation to using diets when medications have failed. The use of dietary therapy for adults with epilepsy was particularly prominent.
The next AES meeting will be held in Houston in December 2016.