IRSF lauds record turn-out for annual Rett Syndrome Symposium

July 01, 2010

(Cincinnati, OH) - IRSF's 11th Annual Rett syndrome Symposium held June 27, 28, and 29 in Leesburg, Virginia brought together leading scientists and researchers in the fields of neurobiology from around the globe who are attempting to demystify Rett syndrome. About 25 presenters led a day and a half of in-depth sessions attended by nearly 150 investigators and scientists, volunteers, families affected by the disease and IRSF staff.

The 2010 IRSF Symposium was Chaired by David M. Katz, PhD of Case Western Reserve University, School of Medicine and Co-Chaired by Yi Eve Sun, PhD of the University of California, Los Angeles. It kicked-off with a Keynote Address given by, distinguished Rett syndrome investigator, Huda Y. Zoghbi, MD of Baylor College of Medicine. The meeting structure largely built on groundwork laid in previous years. For the second year in a row, the closing session on treatment strategies attracted a full-house demonstrating this group's strong ongoing interest in the application of knowledge to the plight of the patient.

Most notably, new relationships and collaborations were forged as researchers had a chance to examine and contribute their knowledge to the work of the other members of the group. For the first time, this year's Symposium featured a session on Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs), a subject which attracted a lot of interest and discussion among the participants.

Chief Scientific Officer, Dr. Antony Horton said, "The record turn-out highlights our leadership in bringing premiere investigators in the Rett field together with accomplished scientists who are working towards developing tomorrow's medicines for Rett syndrome and related diseases."

Poster Session Prizes

About 45 attendees submitted poster abstracts describing the results of their research. Judges reviewed the posters and selected three prize winners:

First Prize, named after Dr. Zoghbi, went to Bruno Blanchi, PhD of The University of California, Los Angeles. The poster was titled Modeling Rett Syndrome using human ES cell-derived neurons. For his efforts, Dr. Blanchi received a QuantiFire XI microscope camera.

The prize for best poster presented by a post-doctoral fellow was awarded to Severine Durand, PhD of Children's Hospital, Boston for her poster titled Role of MeCP2 in development of cortical circuits. Dr. Durand received a Microfire microscope camera for her laboratory

Similarly, the prize for best poster presented by a graduate student was presented to Kristin Kernohan, PhD candidate of The University of Western Ontario for her poster titled ATRX partners with cohesion and MeCP2 and contributes to developmental silencing of imprinted genes in the brain. Ms. Kernohan also received a Microfire microscope camera for the laboratory of her mentor, Dr. Natalie Bérubé.

The prizes were presented by Mr. Christopher Kolendrianos on behalf of Optronics, a division of Karl Storz Imaging. Mr. Kolendrianos is the father of Sorel, age four, who was diagnosed with Rett syndrome at 18 months.
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About Rett Syndrome

Rett syndrome (RTT), a developmental neurological disorder, occurs almost exclusively in females. RTT results in severe movement and communication problems following apparently normal development for the first six months of life. Characteristic features of the disease include loss of speech and purposeful hand use, repetitive hand movements, abnormal walking, abnormal breathing, slowing in the rate of head growth and increased risk of seizures. Current treatment for girls with RTT includes physical and occupational therapy, speech therapy, and medication for seizures. There is no known cure for RTT. In 2007, researchers heralded a major breakthrough by reversing RTT symptoms in mouse models. RTT is considered a "Rosetta Stone" that is helping scientists understand multiple developmental neurological disorders, and shares genetic links with other conditions such as autism and schizophrenia.

About the International Rett Syndrome Foundation

IRSF is the world's leading private funder of basic, translational and clinical Rett syndrome research, funding over $21M in high-quality, peer-reviewed research grants and programs to date. Annually, IRSF hosts the world's largest gathering of global Rett researchers and clinicians to establish research direction and priorities while exchanging ideas and the most recent information. IRSF is the most comprehensive non-profit organization dedicated to providing thorough and accurate information about Rett syndrome, offering informational and emotional family support, and stimulating research aimed at accelerating treatments and a cure for Rett syndrome and related disorders. IRSF has earned Charity Navigator's most prestigious 4 star rating. To learn more about IRSF and Rett syndrome, visit www.rettsyndrome.org or call IRSF at 1-800-818-RETT (7388).

International Rett Syndrome Foundation

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