On the 23rd May, our genetic counsellor Stephanie Oates and Dr Laura Addis travelled to the Faroe Islands (via a small but happy delay in Copenhagen) to attend the 2017 Focal Epilepsy Conference. The conference was arranged by MICE in collaboration with the Danish Epilepsy Centre, Filadelfia and Amplexa Genetics A/S, and took place in Torshavn, the capital of the Faroe’s.
The aim of the conference was to bring together researchers and clinicians working with focal epilepsies to present the latest knowledge in the genetic aetiology of focal epilepsy, along with the phenotypic and diagnostic aspects of the disorder.
Focal epilepsies represent the most common type of epilepsies, but they are heterogeneous, with numerous causes that are still not fully understood (genetic, structural, metabolic and unknown). This conference focused on the genetic causes, our knowledge of which has improved vastly with the advancement in genetic testing technologies. New pathways and disease mechanisms have been revealed and clinical genetic diagnostics is gaining ground. There is still much to learn, but these advances may open up new drug targets and novel treatment options and henceforth, precision/personalised medicine.
Both Stephanie and Laura had posters displayed at the conference – Stephanie’s on the evaluation of the clinical service at Kings, and Laura’s on her research into functional analysis and rescue of epilepsy-associated GRIN2a mutations. Both were well received, and Laura also gave a talk about her research to the conference on the Thursday afternoon.
The conference ended on the Friday with an adrenaline fuelled speedboat trip across the misty seas to the uninhabited island of Hestur. There we saw steep cliffs, breathtaking caves and several unspoiled bird colonies, and finally, the sun! The perfect end to the conference.