FamilieSCN2A. On July 21-23, the FamilieSCN2A Foundation had their Family & Professional Conference in Boston. Having gone to the conference for the past several years, it is truly remarkable to see the changes over time. Here are five key changes I’ve noticed at this year’s event.
Physics. When I tried to summarize the STXBP1 Summit in Colorado on my way back, I got stuck with the concept of momentum. Lots of things are happening in the world of STXBP1 disorders, but the most important thing is momentum, defined by Merriam-Webster as strength or force gained by motion or by a series of events. Buoyed by two natural history studies, STARR and ESCO, things are certainly in motion. Here are a few take-aways from the STXBP1 Summit.
Sparse data. Trying to match the growing body of genomic datasets with associated clinical data is difficult for a variety of reasons. Most importantly, while genomic data are standardized and can be generated at scale, clinical data are often unstructured and sparse, making it difficult to represent a phenotype fully through any type of abbreviated format. Quite frequently in our prior blog posts, we have discussed the Human Phenotype Ontology (HPO), a standardized dictionary where all phenotypic features can be mapped and linked. But these data also quickly become large and the question on how best to handle them remains. In a recent publication, we translated more than 53M patient notes using HPO and explored the utility of vector embedding, a method that currently forms the basis of many AI-based applications. Here is a brief summary on how these technologies can help us to better understand phenotypes. Continue reading
A big step forward. Disease natural history and clinical trial readiness are constantly discussed topics in the rare genetic epilepsy space. Additionally, these concepts have driven our work in the Helbig lab since the very beginning. So why then did last week’s launch of our group’s first prospective natural history study of STXBP1 and SYNGAP1 feel like such a monumental step forward? Last week, we evaluated our first participants in the prospective natural history study that is part of the newly established Center for Epilepsy and Neurodevelopmental Disorders (ENDD), and here are some reflections from our team.