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Epilepsy Foundation Announces $100,000 "Shark Tank" Prize Winner for Most Innovative Idea for People With Seizures


5/17/2013 1:12:24 PM

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Miami, FL, May 17, 2013 – The Epilepsy Foundation today announced the 2013 winner of the Epilepsy Therapy Project Second Annual “Shark Tank” competition for the most innovative new product idea for people with epilepsy. Utkan Demirci, PhD and Steven C. Schachter, MD designed a novel point of care disposable microfluidic chip that can immediately detect the levels of antiepileptic drugs based on a finger-prick sample of blood. The Shark Tank featured live interactive voting by an expert panel of judges and audience members. The winners received a $100,000 grant to accelerate this product to the next phase of development and closer to benefitting patients. The Shark Tank competition took place during the annual Antiepileptic Drug and Device Trials (AED) XII Conference in Miami. The Pipeline Session, which occurs today, will highlight significant advancements in therapeutics and technologies to treat epilepsy.

Judges presiding over this year’s Shark Tank represented a breadth of perspectives and personal interests in innovative product development. Six finalists competed on concept, design, originality, cost to market and, most importantly, how their visionary idea would improve the lives of people living with seizures. Judges included actor and Epilepsy Foundation spokesperson Greg Grunberg, leading philanthropists, national experts and epilepsy advocates. An audience of industry and investment executives and medical researchers voted alongside the panel.

“The 2013 Shark Tank award recognizes a pioneering collaboration between Dr. Demirci, an accomplished Harvard and MIT scientist and Dr. Schachter, a leading clinician and researcher in epilepsy with the Center for Integration of Medicine and Innovative Technology (CIMIT) and Harvard. With support from our Epilepsy Therapy Project initiative, we are solving an unmet challenge in epilepsy. This is a true innovation that will allow physicians, individuals with epilepsy and their caregivers to analyze the effects of epilepsy medication on a real time basis,” said Philip M. Gattone, President and CEO of the Epilepsy Foundation. “For the Epilepsy Foundation, this $100,000 award will go a long way in empowering patients to have a more active role with their physicians in managing seizure control and the side effects associated with the medications available today. We are also excited about the role this rapid and intuitive technology will have in accelerating the development of future epilepsy therapeutics for millions of people living with epilepsy around the world.”

“We have accomplished two objectives that are core to the Epilepsy Foundation today. To fuel partnerships between scientists, clinicians and industry, and to advance the application of technologies, such as Dr. Demirci’s microfluidic platform, that have been scientifically validated in a broad range of settings other than epilepsy,” Mr. Gattone added.

The 2013 Shark Tank award recognizes a significant advancement in personalized medicine for epilepsy: Disposable Microfluidic Chips Detect Antiepileptic Drug Concentration at the Point of Care and the Moment of Need – Optimizing each patient’s treatment requires individual decisions about medicines, dosing and timing. Seizure control and minimizing serious side effects has depended to date on conventional blood testing. However, patients and their physicians need answers fast. Dr. Demirci, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School and Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology, and Dr. Schachter, Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School, propose a novel microfluidic and disposable detection technology for blood levels of anti-seizure medications that can be performed anywhere based on a finger prick, similar to blood glucose monitoring for diabetics, and a cellphone to produce a read out in just 15 minutes. With a projected cost of less than $1 per test, this approach has the potential to be quickly adopted and help physicians advise their patients on optimal drug treatment.

“The challenges of epilepsy are many, and include the everyday difficulties of dealing with and treating seizures,” said actor Greg Grunberg, one of the “Shark Tank” judges, father of a son with epilepsy and well-known for his role on the television series Heroes. “I joined an amazing group of ‘sharks’ today to hear wide-ranging and brilliant ideas to help everyone living with epilepsy. I was so pumped by the presentations. We could only award one presenter, but everyone deeply affected by epilepsy needs to know the work of the Epilepsy Foundation, including Shark Tank, is constantly encouraging innovators to push the envelope for new epilepsy therapies.“

The judges and Shark Tank audience voted on a total of six presentations with an intelligent wristband invention by Rosalind Picard, Sc.D., Affectiva, being voted the “People’s Choice.”

EpiBand: Electrodermal and Seizure Event Alert – An Intelligent Wristband that Integrates Nervous System, Body Temperature and Individual Activity to Predict Seizure Severity and Potentially Save Lives Modern wristwatch designs boost cool capabilities like GPS technology or even golf course information. Rosalind Picard, Sc.D, Affectiva, Inc. and team are developing the Epiband, which takes wristwatch design and smart technology in a new direction. Epiband is a wearable seizure detector worn as a comfortable wristband that provides clinically useful autonomic and activity data and alerts for many conditions by communicating wirelessly with standard smartphones. The EpiBand captures sympathetic nervous system activation, temperature, activity, and possibly audio data which are key to detecting seizure onset and duration. Unlike other technologies, the EpiBand measures electrodermal activity (EDA), a sensitive indicator of sympathetic nervous system activation, which is one of the main components of stress. The investigators note that the largest EDA peaks occur with grand mal seizures, followed by significant smaller peaks signifying complex partial seizures. The size of electrodermal response has also been shown to highly correlate with a biomarker of significant interest in studies of SUDEP (Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy). Thus, when large EDA responses are measured, even for a very short grand mal seizure, it may become important to issue an alert for potential intervention as a precaution against possible SUDEP.

A Novel System for Long-term Seizure Detection and Electronic Diary – Wireless Detection of Critical Seizure Information Today capturing real-time seizure information is highly impractical and burdensome, relying on multiple subcutaneous electrodes just under the scalp. Bryan L. McLaughlin PhD, Draper Laboratory, Cambridge, MA, and collaborators with CIMIT have designed a next-generation seizure detection system that is minimally invasive, cosmetically acceptable and practical to manage and accommodate the latest detection/prediction algorithms. A small array of flexible electrodes and a thin wireless implanted device are positioned just under the skin, using a single incision that also reduces the cost and invasiveness. These operate on wireless power provided by an external cosmetic earpiece. When a seizure is detected and logged, the patient receives an audible alert, potentially avoiding a life-threatening event. The system holds promise as a new gold standard for capturing individualized seizure data critical to improving patient therapy and to obtaining accurate pharmacology trial data.

WELP Device for the Detection of Epilepsy Seizures and the Communication of Information to Give First Aid – Smartphones that Are Smart Enough to Recognize Seizures and Call for Help Giovanni Conte, Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research, Italy, designed WELP, a portable non-invasive system that recognizes a state of emergency, for example seizures or unconsciousness, and calls for help through a smartphone. WELP detects seizures through a set of algorithms and allows the exchange of information so that a person in an emergency situation can obtain first aid from someone nearby who uses the smartphone application. The smartphone sends an emergency call with geo-localization information on behalf of the person in distress. A list of contacts defined by the user also will receive an SOS. These features offer clear advantages over existing seizure detection devices.

Development and Validation of “MyEp Diet” Mobile App – Epilepsy-controlling Diet Monitoring and Real World Feedback Dietary treatments for epilepsy are growing in popularity, such as the ketogenic diet, a high fat and restricted carbohydrates approach that has been shown to have benefit in seizure control. Unfortunately, diets can be difficult to maintain, even for the most disciplined people. Georgia Mitsi, PhD, CEO of Apptomics LLC, and collaborators show that their innovative, remote-monitoring mobile application can empower patient and caregiver adherence to physician-designed diet plans and treatment through continuous health monitoring and feedback. The app offers a complete personalized approach for epilepsy management containing many novel features and basic demographic data. Fats, carbohydrates and proteins will be calculated according to the diet plan selected. The investigators are planning an exploratory clinical study at several leading epilepsy centers with the goal of providing scientific validation of the technology.

Flexible, Wireless EEG Systems with Cloud Computing for Epilepsy – Taking EEGs on the Road and to the Clouds Healthcare applications for smartphones are limitless. With advances in flexible electronics, wireless technologies and powerful smartphones, Jonathan Viventi, PhD, Polytechnic Institute of New York University and Orrin Devinsky, MD, NYU Langone Medical Center, New York, have devised a new and affordable ambulatory EEG solution that may more accurately measure the effectiveness of a particular treatment regimen, potentially improving epilepsy care and quality of life. The new wireless EEG system uses flexible, dry electrodes and very small, low power wireless devices integrated in a lightweight and inexpensive Bluetooth EEG cap. Supported by a smartphone application, the system is designed to offer local signal processing for seizure detection and a wireless connection to the International Epilepsy Electrophysiology Portal on Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud. The practicality, affordability and versatility of this device and open software platform create a unique market position for everyday use by epilepsy patients, small clinics, research labs, and emergency workers. The functionality of this system may be extended for research applications (for sleep monitoring and cognitive studies, for example), military and commercial applications.

Today’s Pipeline Session Highlights Advancements in New Therapies

A stellar line up of leading drug and device developers, investigators and industry leaders were selected for oral presentations at the Pipeline Session on Friday, May 17, 2013.

"We are proud to support and highlight the many novel therapies that are being presented at this year’s AED conference and Pipeline Session,” said Warren Lammert, Founder of the Epilepsy Therapy Project. “The Epilepsy Foundation, through the Epilepsy Therapy Project, works to accelerate innovative ideas to improve the lives of people living with epilepsy today.”

2013 Pipeline Session presentations unveiled product candidates and program updates from: Affectiva, Alexza Pharmaceuticals, BrainSentinel, Catalyst Pharmaceuticals, Children’s Hospital of Boston, Convergence Pharmaceuticals, Cyberonics, Emory University, EpaleX, Epitel, Focused Ultrasound Foundation, Harbor Therapeutics, HiPass Design, InseroHealth, Legacy Research Institute, Medtronic, NeuroAdjuvants, Neurogenomics, Neuropace, SmartMonitor, Stanford University, SynapCell, Sunovion Pharmaceuticals, Tansna Therapeutics, UCB Pharma, Upsher-Smith Laboratories, Visualase, and Xeris Pharmaceuticals.

About Epilepsy

When a person has two or more unprovoked seizures, they have epilepsy, which affects nearly three million people in the United States and 65 million people worldwide. This year, another 200,000 people in our country will be diagnosed with epilepsy. Despite all available treatments, 30 to 40 percent of all people with epilepsy continue to experience uncontrolled seizures while many more experience less than optimal seizure control.

About the AED XII Conference

The Antiepileptic Drug and Device Trials (AED) XII Conference, being held May 15-17, 2013, in Aventura, FL. focuses on issues related to development of antiepileptic drugs and devices from preclinical discoveries through clinical evaluations with the final day devoted to showcasing the most promising epilepsy therapies in development. The 2013 conference also includes the second annual Epilepsy Therapy Project Shark Tank Event which awards a $100,000 grant to the best and most innovative idea in epilepsy treatment and care. The conference is sponsored by the Epilepsy Study Consortium in collaboration with the University of Pennsylvania Epilepsy Center and the Epilepsy Therapy Project, an initiative of the Epilepsy Foundation.

About the Epilepsy Therapy Project

The Epilepsy Therapy Project was founded in 2002 by a group of parents, distinguished physicians, and researchers to support the commercialization of new therapies through direct grants and investments in promising academic and commercial projects. In December 2012, ETP merged with the Epilepsy Foundation and continues to support translational research and new product development as an initiative under the Epilepsy Foundation umbrella.

About the Epilepsy Foundation

The Epilepsy Foundation, a national non-profit with affiliated organizations throughout the United States, has led the fight against seizures since 1968. The Foundation’s goals are to ensure that people with seizures are able to participate in all life experiences; and to prevent, control and cure epilepsy through services, education, advocacy and research, so not another moment is lost to seizures.

To learn more about epilepsy, visit www.epilepsy.com. ‘Like’ the Epilepsy Foundation on Facebook at www.facebook.com/epilepsyfoundationofamerica and follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/epilepsyfdn



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