What's Hot at EAN 2019?

Pauline Anderson

June 26, 2019

More than 6000 neurologists and related scientists from across Europe are expected to gather in Oslo, Norway, for the fifth annual Congress of the European Academy of Neurology (EAN) on June 29 to July 2.

"Neuroinflammation — Science. Synergies. Solutions" is the main theme of this year's congress. The role of neuroinflammatory processes has become a hot topic in recent years, both with respect to understanding neurologic diseases and developing new therapies that target neuroinflammation.

The EAN meeting will highlight various aspects of this process. For example, a plenary session will focus on the role of inflammation in "noninflammatory" neurologic diseases such as epilepsy, Parkinson disease, cerebrovascular disease, and migraine.

As well, a focused workshop on future treatments of neuroinflammation and neuroimmune diseases will include discussions on brain repair and inflammation, B-cell therapies in neuroimmune diseases, and T-cell therapies in neuroimmune diseases. Another focused workshop on glia and epilepsy will feature presentations on the roles of glia cells in epilepsy and of astrocyte-mediated inflammatory processes in epileptogenesis, as well as on the possibility of managing epilepsy by modulating glia.

According to epilepsy specialist Tim J. von Oertzen, MD, Kepler University Hospital, Linz, Austria, and EAN website editor in chief, this session on glia and epilepsy should not be missed.

"Given that the large number of third generation AEDs didn't significantly reduce the number of refractory epilepsy patients, we have to consider different mechanisms of epileptogenesis," he writes in response to a request to EAN committee members, panel chairs, and invited speakers to post what meeting sessions they recommend.

"The role of glia in epilepsy has long been noticed but not sufficiently discussed," added von Oertzen. "Stay tuned to hear about new insights of this fascinating aspect in epilepsy during this session."

The Big Seven

In addition to neuroinflammation, the congress will cover research related to other neurologic diseases and disorders, including "the big seven." In addition to epilepsy, these include stroke, headache, multiple sclerosis (MS), dementia, movement disorders, and neuromuscular disorders.

The congress sessions will have a range of formats. As well as focused workshops and plenaries, there will be "hands-on" and teaching courses, case-based workshops, debates, industry-sponsored symposia, named lectures, interactive discussions, electronic posters, and oral presentations of the most recent scientific developments.

A workshop on cannabinoids is a highlight for some attendees, including Per Soelberg Sorensen, MD, Neuroscience Center, Copenhagen, Denmark, an invited speaker at the congress.

"There has been a lot hype about the use of cannabinoids for treatment of neuroinflammatory and neurodegenerative disorders, but many controversies remain," Sorensen posted on the EAN website. "I am looking forward to getting an overview of the currently known facts about issues regarding the use of cannabinoid medicines, both therapeutic and legal, and to discuss the value of future use of cannabinoids, in particular for treatment of spasticity and pain."

The cannabinoids session is also on the not-to-be-missed list for Antonella Macerollo, MD, PhD, University of Liverpool, United Kingdom, a member of the EAN e-Communication Committee. She posted that the role of endocannabinoids in neurology has become an emerging topic.

"Attending this workshop will give me the possibility to learn the practical rationale, the beneficial and deleterious effects of cannabinoid-based medication use in neurology, for both already known and emerging indications," she said.

Another session — on the management of stroke in young adults — is on the agenda for Bo Norrving, MD, Lund University, Sweden, invited speaker at the congress.

"There has been significant progress in the understanding of stroke in the young during the last few years," Norrving posted. "Many 'black areas' have been enlightened, but many enigmas still exist. It is like solving a detective story, which is not fiction but real. I'll take this opportunity to update my knowledge on where the field stands now."

New Insights

Bendik S. Winsvold, MD, University of Oslo, Norway, another EAN 2019 invited speaker, is looking forward to a symposium on "insights into headache pathology."

"New insights into the biological mechanisms of headache are now emerging from various fields — radiology, genetics, cell and animal models, among others," he posted on the EAN website. "This new understanding is already leading to new treatment options. The session includes some of the leading names in the field, and promises to be a not-to-miss session."

Milija Mijajlovic, MD, PhD, Klinički Centar Srbije, Belgrade, Serbia, who is a member of the Teaching Course Subcommittee, posted on the site that she expects a workshop on stroke and dementia to be a meeting highlight.

"This session offers an interesting approach to interaction between two very prevalent diseases, stroke and dementia. It will offer recent meta-analyses of treatment of vascular risk factors, but also to the need for further trials in this area. I also expect up-to-date information on specific mechanisms connecting various cerebrovascular pathology (particularly cerebral small vessel disease and amyloid pathology) and cognitive decline. It would be very interesting to hear recent updates on genetic risk factors, imaging- and fluid biomarkers for both diseases as well as therapeutic and prevention options."

An opening lecture on Saturday, June 29, by Nobel Prize winner Edvard I. Moser, PhD, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway, titled, "The Positioning System in the Brain," promises to attract a huge crowd.

On the EAN website, Günther Deuschl, MD, Kiel University, Germany, an EAN board member, urged delegates to catch this lecture, in which Moser will explain his groundbreaking research. "This is a fantastic story" that the attendees will be able to hear "from the researcher himself," he writes.

This lecture will be followed by a music and dance performance by FRIKAR, a prize-winning Norwegian group known for innovative performances.

For many delegates, the Presidential Symposium on Sunday, June 30, will be a meeting highlight. Klaus V. Toyka, MD, Universität Würzburg, Germany, and EAN archivist, is among them.

"The symposium covers three state-of-the-art topics including Alzheimer dementia, cerebrovascular disease and motor neuron disease presented by outstanding experts in these fields," Toyka posted on the EAN website.

Marianne de Visser, MD, PhD, University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands, secretary general, also won't miss this symposium.

She is "particularly looking forward" to the lecture by Prof Dame Pamela J. Shaw, MBBS, MD, University of Sheffield, United Kingdom, on amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, she posted on the EAN site. "The positive tone of the title of her lecture, 'Translational Neuroscience to improve outcomes for motor neuron disease. Are we winning?' makes me curious. As yet there has not been a treatment that has really modified the disease."

Tom Jenkins, MBChB, PhD, also at the University of Sheffield, who is a member of the eCommunication Committee, also has this lecture on his list of sessions to attend.

"I was taught how to practise neuromuscular medicine by Professor Dame Shaw, who is a world-renowned expert on motor neuron disease, and this is a lecture I would not miss," he posted on the site.

Brain Strategy

Other meeting highlights include sessions on stem cell transplants in MS and "hot topics" in neurostimulation; a symposium on unmet needs in the treatment of migraine; and an update on the Norwegian Brain Strategy that includes a plan to push the strategy further up the political agenda, which might serve as a template for other countries.

Yet another meeting highlight will be a special session on new neurologic guidelines. This session will introduce the latest guideline papers developed by the EAN on general medical management issues in dementia; sleep and stroke; trigeminal neuralgia; and medication overuse headache.

Among the controversial topics to be debated by meeting delegates will be whether small-fiber pathology accounts for fibromyalgia and whether an objective imaging marker exists for pain now that new imaging tools are available.

Current research to be discussed in oral sessions during the meeting will embrace a wide range of topics, including the following:

  • Access to mechanical thrombectomy for cerebral ischemia in France;

  • The effect of antipsychotic drugs on mortality among dementia patients in Denmark;

  • A UK study linking autoantibody production following traumatic brain injury, which is therapeutically modifiable, to poor outcomes;

  • Cancer risk in MS patients, siblings, and healthy control persons;

  • IGFBP-2 as a novel biomarker for incident dementia;

  • Treatment of primary brain tumors with BRAF inhibitors;

  • Ischemic stroke despite oral anticoagulant therapy in patients with atrial fibrillation: recurrence risk and optimal anticoagulation strategy;

  • The NorMig study: Migraine prophylactics in the Norwegian population — duration of use and effect on triptan prescription;

  • Differences between sexes in the response to corticosteroids in adults with community-acquired bacterial meningitis;

  • Factors influencing employment and quality of life 12 months after a minor stroke;

  • Safety and efficacy of the investigational agent lasmiditan in patients with cardiovascular risk factors — results from two phase 3 trials for acute treatment of migraine;

  • Statins, risk for death and stroke in patients with dementia — a registry-based study;

  • Declining incidence of dementia: a Danish registry-based cohort study of over 20 years;

  • Validation of European guidelines: recommendations for prognostication of neurologic outcome after cardiac arrest;

  • Long-term consequences of recurrent febrile seizures;

  • Sexual abuse and fear of birth as a possible explanation of the increased prevalence of cesarean section in women with epilepsy;

  • Efficacy of autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplant in secondary progressive MS.

Long-standing Traditions

There will also be numerous networking opportunities for delegates and chances to explore Oslo, one of Europe's fastest-growing cities, with a current population of 620,000.

Surrounded by forests and fjords, Oslo, the capital of Norway and the country's largest city, is known for its green spaces, restaurants, galleries, and museums. Among the most popular museums are the Viking Ship Museum, the Norwegian Maritime Museum, the National Art Museum, which has the country's largest collection of paintings, drawings and sculptures, and the Munch Museum, where you can learn about the life of Edvard Munch, the most celebrated Norwegian artist, who is perhaps best known for his painting, "The Scream."

While in Oslo, attendees can visit other local attractions, such as the Royal Palace Oslo, the Oslo Opera House, and the Akershus Fortress, a medieval castle built around 1290. Another attraction is Oslo City Hall, which houses art studios as well as city council and administration offices. The city hall is the venue for the annual Nobel Peace Prize ceremony, held on December 10, the anniversary of Alfred Nobel's death.

Others might consider taking a walking tour, renting a bike, or doing some island hopping to enjoy the spectacular scenery.

Norway has long-standing traditions in neuroscience and clinical neurology. Oslo got its first full clinical professorship in neurology in 1895, which some believe was the world's second full chair of neurology. Today, Norway has a very active and dedicated neurologic association with more than 650 members.

Congress of the European Academy of Neurology (EAN) 2019: June 29 to July 2, 2019.

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