Dear Friends -
Happy Holidays! 2011 has proven to be a particularly exciting year at the Epilepsy Therapy Project, and we want to share with you a few of the highlights.
ETP takes an entrepreneurial approach to identify and impact the development of groundbreaking therapies. Adapting treatments in development, or already approved, for another therapeutic area is a key strategy that offers a short timeline to patients and the opportunity to leverage a much larger prior investment made outside of epilepsy.
In November 2010, ETP and our partner The Epilepsy Foundation awarded a New Therapy Grant of $50,000 to Visualase that has resulted in early but promising progress this year. In fact you may have seen the national news stories featuring Visualase's image-guided laser technology which provides minimally invasive thermal ablation. ETP is proud to have helped guide Visualase (www.visualaseinc.com ) into epilepsy and to have awarded a grant for a clinical trial. Encouraging results reported this week at the American Epilepsy Society in 18 patients have set the stage for another 25 planned procedures over the next 6 weeks. 1 million of the 3 million with epilepsy in the US alone do not respond to available therapies and a meaningful number have focal epilepsy which could potentially be treated by surgery. Today only a tiny percentage of this group actually pursue surgery treatment and a less invasive approach could be an attractive alternative and even cure for many more now living with uncontrolled seizures.
Earlier this week ETP announced our Fall 2011 New Therapy Grant awards. These awards total more than $1 million in funding to support the development of four new technologies: the EpiLert V1, to alert caregivers at the onset of a seizure event; Inferior alveolar nerve stimulation (IANS), a new less invasive, implantable treatment option to reduce seizures; Triheptanoin, a synthetic edible oil that could extend the use of dietary therapy such as the ketogenic diet as a treatment option; and the development of an auto-injectable formulation of diazepam to treat extended seizures and seizure clusters. Our work continues, too, to improve ETP's "My Epilepsy Diary" which we launched in 2009. The "Epilepsy Diary" now has over 13,000 users and is an important tool both for the control and management of epilepsy and source of data to improve our understanding of epilepsy and bring us closer to effective therapies. Watch for the diary to be available in three additional languages - Spanish, French and Italian - early in 2012. (Please visit www.epilepsy.com to learn more about My Epilepsy Diary or any of ETP research awards.)
Notwithstanding ETP's efforts, funding today for new therapies remains unacceptably limited. Financial challenges facing academic and industry labs and enterprises mean that ETP grants and programs are more important than ever. ETP awards advance important research through critical junctures, validating potential and reducing risks so that innovators can access the larger resources necessary to bring these new treatments to patients.
Our mission is to accelerate ideas into therapies for people living with epilepsy and seizures. Our commitment is having an impact, and we are thrilled with the seeds of progress underway. Yet epilepsy remains a devastating and unsolved puzzle for far too many people and families and sudden unexplained death in epilepsy (SUDEP) a still too little talked about and unacceptable risk, especially for those with uncontrolled seizures. You or a loved one may be one of the 3 million living with epilepsy and unacceptable side-effects in the US alone, or among the one in three with uncontrolled epilepsy, or among those who have lost a friend or loved one to SUDEP.
We hope you find the exciting highlights of this year as inspiring as we have, and we invite you to join us to accelerate change and realize new therapies. The first $150,000 raised before December 31 will be matched dollar for dollar by three anonymous ETP angel donors. Please take a moment now to visit epilepsy.com/donation-- our angels' matches will double the impact of your contribution. Help us help our angels spend it all - nothing would make them happier. With you as a partner ETP can and will continue to accelerate even more new therapies.
Join us, your help will mean a great deal to a great many.
With deep gratitude and warmest wishes for a happy holiday season,