The FSHD Society’s 27th annual International Research Congress (IRC), which is being conducted entirely online for the first time in the organization’s history has opened, and reportedly has set an attendance record as the result of going online.

The conference is widely seen as the premier global platform for the discussion and dissemination of state-of-the-art research on facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD). A record 210 researchers, clinicians, industry representatives and patient advocates are attending, according to a media release.

“Due to the global COVID-19 crisis, we have deployed a robust virtual conference platform for the 2020 IRC which has opened the opportunity to participate for many researchers who previously could not afford the time or cost of travel,” Jamshid Arjomand, PhD, the Society’s chief science officer, comments in the release.

Researchers who have convened at this gathering since 1994 have helped drive fundamental discoveries, arriving at a broad consensus on a central hypothesis of the genetic basis of FSHD, development of cellular and animal models, identification of multiple therapeutic targets, and the validation of clinical outcome measures.

These discoveries and collaborations have advanced the field, prompting observational and clinical studies – including an ongoing Phase 2b clinical trial for the first disease-modifying therapy for FSHD as well as a large natural history study called ReSOLVE. These studies, as well as other clinical research, have responded to the challenges of collecting data while keeping volunteers safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The program committee made special efforts to attract clinical and industry researchers, as advancement of drug development brings greater urgency to improving the understanding of the clinical features of FSHD, genotype-phenotype correlations, natural history, and evaluation of disease progression. As a result, the number of attendees and scientific presentations has nearly doubled over the past 2 years, the release explains.

“With the recent advances in FSHD studies now including large sets of data, greater availability of biomaterials from multiple large research initiatives, and the rapid approach of more clinical trials,” the program committee notes.

“The FSHD International Research Congress serves a more important role than ever: to ensure dissemination of the latest ideas and discussion of the field’s needs and priorities, combined with collaboration and coordination, to speed up progress toward delivering effective treatments to our patients and families,” it adds.

[Source(s): FSHD Society, PRWeb]