-Project aims to develop potential cures for drug-resistant epilepsy and Dravet Syndrome-

Toronto, ON – November 21, 2017 – EpLink – The Epilepsy Research Program of the Ontario Brain Institute – and Katie’s Run – announced today that proceeds from the 6th Annual Katie’s Run for Epilepsy will support the EpLink Genetics Project led by Dr. Berge Minassian, MD and his collaborator, Dr. David R. Hampson, PhD, a Professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Toronto. With the $37,865 raised by Katie’s Run, and the match funding provided by the Ontario Brain Institute, the EpLink Genetics Project will receive over $100,000 this year!

“An investment of $100,000 directed towards EpLink from a single run is a remarkable achievement we should take pride in, as a community,” said Tom Mikkelsen, President and Scientific Director at the Ontario Brain Institute. “Katie’s Run illustrates the strength of a community and the pivotal role each of us plays in accomplishing a common purpose—optimizing therapies that reduce and eliminate seizures while improving lives of people and families impacted by epilepsy.”

Dravet Syndrome is a severe form of epilepsy, and people with this syndrome also exhibit cognitive and behavioural impairments. After sequencing the DNA of more than 320 people with drug-resistant epilepsy, Dr. Minassian and his team found that a mutated SCN1A gene was linked to Dravet Syndrome development. The SCN1A gene codes for a sodium channel that is required for some brain cells to function properly. With the support from Katie’s Run, Dr. Hampson and his lab will work to find a cure for Dravet Syndrome and other genetic forms of drug-resistant epilepsy by increasing the number of sodium channels in the brain that may compensate for the defective channel and restore normal brain cell function.

“By using gene therapy techniques, our team hopes to develop a viable long-term therapy for treating Dravet Syndrome,” said Dr. Hampson. “Our deepest thanks to Geri and Katie of Katie’s Run for selecting this project and supporting our efforts.”

The 6th Annual Katie’s Run, organized by Geri Woudstra and Trudy Pogue, was held on June 24, 2017 in Haliburton, ON, and was established to honour Katie Woudstra. In December 2010, Katie experienced a tonic-clonic (grand mal) seizure and was later diagnosed with epilepsy. This year’s event was a huge success, having reached their donation milestone, and had a great turnout of around 200 participants for the 5K and 10K run and 2.5K walk/run.

“Katie and I decided that the EpLink Genetics Project best aligned with our organization’s mission,” said Geri Woudstra. “We are hopeful that this project will improve treatment and find a cure for this devastating form of epilepsy, and potentially have a far-reaching impact on other forms of epilepsy.”

Next year’s 7th Annual Katie’s Run is scheduled to take place on Saturday, July 7, 2018 at Haliburton Highlands Secondary School. Everyone is invited to participate in this scenic run through beautiful Haliburton in Ontario’s cottage country! For more details on next year’s run, please visit www.katiesrun.ca.

About EpLink

EpLink is the Epilepsy Research Program of the Ontario Brain Institute. EpLink’s mission is to reduce seizures and improve quality of life for people with epilepsy through research. To support us or to learn more, go to www.eplink.ca or follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Contact Information

Rebecca Woelfle
Communications Lead, EpLink
Katie’s Run for Epilepsy
Geri Woudstra: 705-457-6840
Trudy Pogue: 705-457-8556

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