What to Expect at the 2016 American Epilepsy Society Annual Meeting

Michael Privatera, MD, AES president spoke with Neurology Advisor about some of the key topics and presentations slated for this year's meeting.

The 2016 American Epilepsy Society (AES) Annual Meeting will be held December 2–6 in Houston, Texas. Now in its 70th year, the largest meeting in the world for epilepsy clinicians and researchers is expected to draw an estimated 5,000 attendees.

“One hot epilepsy treatment topic will be cannabidiol,” on which results of recent trials will be presented, said AES president Michael Privatera, MD, director of the Epilepsy Center at the University of Cincinnati Gardner Neuroscience Institute. “If you search on ‘cannabidiol’ among the abstracts in the meeting program, there are 21 scientific presentations,” he told Neurology Advisor. Among these will be the first full reports of 2 of 3 completed randomized controlled trials of GW Pharma’s cannabidiol product Epidiolex.

When the topline results of the trials were released early this year, the press release said only that the results were positive for the primary outcome but provided no other details. “We will see the details in Houston for the study on Dravet syndrome and 1 of the 2 studies on Lennox-Gastaut syndrome,” said Dr Privatera.

He further noted the following highlights slated for each day of the meeting. 

Friday: The first day of the meeting will kick off with a symposium “on how to pick among all the new surgical procedures for epilepsy and match to the patient, plus a talk on SUDEP research by Dr. So, the president emeritus,” said Dr Privatera. The latter presentation is this year’s Judith Hoyer Lecture, titled “The SUDEP Movement: From Inception to the Goal.” There will also be presentations regarding professional and career development, as well as how to address gaps in epilepsy care in Spanish-speaking countries.

Saturday: “Epilepsy Care: A Futurist View” is the topic of the presidential symposium. “I have speakers in most of the major diagnostic and therapeutic areas speaking about the current state and speculating about what the future will hold—20 or so years from now—in imaging, drug development, genetics, surgery, and bioinformatics” said Dr Privatera. “I think it will be very interesting—not your typical review talks.” In another session, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will discuss the many programs they are funding based on the 2012 Institute of Medicine report on current needs in epilepsy care.

Sunday: The annual course this year is titled “When All Else Fails: Intractable Epilepsy – Pathophysiology to Treatment,” in which multiple experts will discuss their approach in patients from infancy through adulthood, and they will feature relevant cases. Attendees can expect to hear “opinions on the most difficult treatment situations we face as epilepsy experts” Dr Privatera said. The AES annual business meeting will be held just prior to the course and is open to all AES members.

Monday: The Merritt-Putnam Symposium will cover multiscale imaging in epilepsy, ranging from “imaging cells, to circuits, to transmitters, and then full brain imaging for memory,” according to Dr Privatera.  Later in the day, presentations will include the Pediatric State of the Art Symposium on tuberous sclerosis complex
—“relatively rare, but with some new discoveries on mechanisms and breakthrough treatments” he notes—as well as a Pediatric Epilepsy Highlights Session that will feature top abstracts from relevant research. There will also be an update on FDA approvals of pediatric antiepileptic drugs.

Tuesday: The Scientific Symposium will show the newest methods in brain stimulation, and the Hot Topics Symposium will include newer, less invasive radiosurgery methods, how to use the newest antiepileptic drugs, and seizure apps for seizure detection. In addition, 6 concurrent skills workshop sessions will take place at 2 different points in the day.

Be sure to follow Neurology Advisor’s live coverage of AES 2016 here