Dear friends and colleagues,
On the occasion of 40 years since Dravet Syndrome was first defined, and 8 years after organizing the first Workshop in Verona, we are very pleased to invite you once again to this magnificent city for the “Dravet Syndrome and Other Sodium Channel Related Encephalopathies” International Symposium.
The Symposium consists of two days focusing on scientific research relating to genes SCN1A, SCN2A and SCN8A.
The study of epilepsy and the care of children have changed remarkably in recent years, after the identification of the genetic causes of some epilepsy syndromes. The main epilepsy gene- the sodium channel alpha 1 (SCN1A)- has been linked to Dravet Syndrome, to a number of less severe forms of epilepsy, and to febrile convulsions. However, more than 15 years after the causative role of this gene was identified in these forms, and in spite of the large number of patients identified, the spectrum of clinical manifestations associated with SCN1A mutations continues to be enriched by new phenotypes and only recently has enough evidence been collected to foresee to what extent early clinical and genetic predictors seem to influence prognosis. Thanks to the advent of next-generation sequencing, the process that will eventually lead to fully highlight the phenotypical spectrum, long-term outcome, and role of genetic variation in the epilepsies associated with mutations of the other two main sodium channel genes associated with epilepsy- SCN2A and SACN8A- will hopefully be quicker but is until now nonetheless proving relatively slow.
Even slower, and particularly complex, is the process that has led to the gathering of evidence on the sensitivity of these conditions to medication. It has taken more than 16 years since the first controlled trial demonstrated the efficacy of add-on stiripentol in Dravet syndrome, before new trials to test the efficacy of two different molecules, fenfluramine and canabidiol, were launched in this same syndrome, and none seems to be on the horizon for the conditions associated with SCN2A- and SCN8A-related epilepsies.
In order to address the main clinical, genetic and treatment issues that concern
families, the specialists, and basic researchers alike; to explore to what extent disorders arising from mutations in this gene family overlap and differ; to better define the specific burden of comorbidities; and to explore the bases for rational treatment approaches, we have organized a thematic workshop to gather world-leading specialists in Verona to discuss available evidence and perspectives for future developments.
It will be a pleasure to share these two days of scientific research with you.
On behalf of scientific committee
Bernardo Dalla Bernardina, Renzo Guerrini