Report by Prof. Tissa Wijeratne MD FRACP FRCP (Edin) FRCP (London) FAHA FAAN (USA)

The delegates were treated with an exciting third day at the 24th World Congress of Neurology in Dubai.

The 2019 Yahr award lecture was delivered by Professor Sarah Tabrizi.  The lecture revealed exciting news on potential treatment for Huntington’s disease (HD). HD is a devastating neurodegenerative disease caused by an abnormally expanded CAG repeat expansion on the HTT gene. This confers a predominantly toxic gain of function in the mutant huntingtin protein (mHTT) protein. There are currently no disease-modifying therapies available for HD.  Professor Tabrizi went on to describe the details of her research on this with great promise of therapeutic potentials. These include DNA targeting techniques such as zinc-finger proteins, transcription activator-like effector nucleases, and CRISPR/Cas9; post-transcriptional Huntingtin lowering approaches such as RNA interference, antisense oligonucleotides, and small molecular splicing modulators; and novel methods to clear the mHTT protein such as proteolysis targeting chimeras. Improvements in the delivery and distribution of such agents, as well as the development of objective biomarkers of disease and HTT – lowering pharmacodynamic outcomes, have bought these potential therapies to the forefront of Huntington’s disease research with clinical trials in patients already underway. Professor Tabrizi went on to explain these promising approaches in the clinic with a potentially bright future for possible new therapeutics in this disabling condition.

The MS and demyelinating disorder went on to discuss the consensus guidelines on MS management which were quite useful to the practising neurologists.  The rising costs of medications and lack of access to care were discussed in detail as well.

The tropical and geographical neurological disorders session was an eye-opener.  Migration, frequent travel changed the dynamic of these disorders globally.

The Pan African symposium was provided new insight to the audience.  Disparities in health care, unique challenges in access to care and specific cultural and spiritual beliefs in management of stroke, dementia and epilepsy was discussed in detail.

World Federation Neurology will continue to collaborate with other organizations such as the International Headache Society, and International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society to address these issues as a matter of emergency.

The Tournament of the Minds initial rounds was a joy to watch, as well as a terrific learning experience.  The packed audience with smartphone based on the spot voting for the best answer was very popular. Iran remains at the frontline as of this evening.

The lively discussion during the African Symposium was quite productive, and the day was ended with a fairy tale networking dinner in Dubai city.