Abstract submission is now closed for the 2017 SMA Researcher Meeting. We are excited to announce that we received 125 submissions, a record number. Our submissions come from researchers in 14 countries, 10 companies, and close to 50 institutions.
We expect over 300 researchers and clinicians from almost 100 organizations will attend the SMA Researcher Meeting. With registration for both the family and researcher portions of the Annual SMA Conference on track to break records, we anticipate an engaging and productive conference.
Abstract submissions allow scientists from all over the world to submit new and unpublished data for consideration. From the submissions received, our Scientific Advisory Board will select the most captivating and promising to be presented at the conference. While considering abstract submissions, the SAB will also look for areas of overlap or commonality. Often, different scientists working on similar questions can be gathered into a single session to stimulate new discussions and collaborations that can further SMA research.
One of the most important themed sessions each year is our special session. This year’s special session is called, “The Role of Fatigue and Muscle Weakness in SMA with Therapeutic Implications”. The goal of this session is to discuss novel points of intervention that could result in greater motor and muscle function at more advanced stages of SMA.
The session will emphasize fatigue and muscle weakness from a clinical and biological perspective, breaking down the potential role of different components of the motor unit. There will also be a discussion on how therapeutic approaches might be utilized in combination with the SMN enhancing drugs now in late state clinical trials, and how to successfully manage fatigue and muscle endurance in clinical trials. The moderator for the special session is Cure SMA SAB member Thomas Crawford, MD, Professor of Neurology and Pediatrics, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.
The SAB also extends invitations to other scientists working on experiments that might be helpful to the SMA research community. In the past, this has included researchers working on related diseases like ALS, in order to see what we can learn from advancements in other neuromuscular disorders.
A panel discussion is also planned on the importance of continued funding after the first drug approval.
How We Are Engaging the SMA Community
Along with our open requests for funding proposals, open abstract submission allows us to engage the SMA researcher community and accelerate the pace of research. In addition, many of the scientists who submit abstracts or who are invited to give talks will also be invited to prepare posters for our family-friendly poster session, during which families can interact directly with researchers and ask them questions about their work.