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Epilepsy Foundation to Hold Third Annual "Shark Tank" Competition; Invites Entries for Innovative, New Products for People with Epilepsy

$200,000 to be Awarded at 2014 Epilepsy Pipeline Update Conference in San Francisco June 5-7, 2014

LANDOVER, Md., Jan. 22, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Epilepsy Foundation today announced a call for entries for the third annual epilepsy "Shark Tank" competition and is accepting submissions that represent the most innovative ideas in epilepsy and seizure treatment and care.  The deadline for submitting a letter of intent is March 14, 2014.  The selected finalists will receive international recognition and compete for grants totaling $200,000 to support the development and commercialization of important new products, technologies or therapeutic concepts.  

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Finalists will present their product concepts on the second day of the 2014 Epilepsy Pipeline Conference, an initiative of the Epilepsy Therapy Project, to be held June 5-7, 2014 at the Hyatt Regency San Francisco.  The "Shark Tank" event will feature live voting among audience members and a panel of judges representative of industry, advocacy, investors, the research and medical communities.  The winning project or projects deemed to be the most innovative will be announced at the conclusion of the conference.

"The interest in and scope of The "Shark Tank" competition continues to grow each year," said Philip M. Gattone, President and CEO of the Epilepsy Foundation.  "The program is a catalyst for entrepreneurs, scientists, engineers and the broader community to develop inventive product concepts and technologies with the promise of improving treatment and/or quality-of-life for the more than 60 million people living with epilepsy and seizure conditions.  There remains a critical need for more effective therapies for the millions of people who still suffer seizures and side effects despite available therapies."

How to Submit Your Idea
Applicants must provide a letter of intent outlining their project goals and the near-term potential benefit to people with epilepsy or seizures, as well as the deliverables expected as a result of the grant, by March 14, 2014.  Applicants must demonstrate an ability to move the proposed plan to completion, showing how the prize can accelerate any step along the path to market.  For more information and instructions on submitting a letter of intent, please visit http://www.epilepsy.com/etp/pipeline2014/sharktank.

Finalists will be notified by April 11, 2014 and will be eligible for a travel stipend to attend the June conference. 

Some examples of novel and exciting concepts could fall into the following innovative categories:

  • A system to detect seizures with the capacity to provide early warning to the patient or family;
  • A treatment that stops a seizure from progressing;
  • A system that helps patients manage their daily treatment (for example an e-diary or pill reminder technology);
  • A device that prevents physical injury that patients may experience when in seizure; or
  • An entirely new product concept with the promise to dramatically improve the lives of people with epilepsy. 

The winners of the 2013 "Shark Tank" competition were Utkan Demirci, PhD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School and Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology, and Steven C. Schachter, MD, Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School, who designed a novel point of care disposable microfluidic chip that can immediately detect the levels of anti-epileptic drugs based on a finger-prick sample of blood.  Seizure control has depended to date on conventional blood testing; this technology has the potential to detect blood levels of anti-seizure medications quickly, with a cellphone read out in minutes.  Drs. Demirci and Schachter were awarded a $100,000 grant to accelerate this product to the next phase of development and closer to benefitting patients.

According to the researchers, "This project has significantly accelerated our efforts and allowed us to develop surfaces that are sensitive to the presence of anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) and other blood tests frequently ordered at the same time as AED levels.  We are now moving into the phase of clinical testing with the goal of developing a disposable inexpensive chip with a portable reader: a 'lab on a chip with a fingerstick'."

2012 "Shark Tank" winner Charles Anderson created SAMi, a patent-pending sleep activity monitor used to detect and record abnormal sleep movements, including seizures.  During sleep, audio-video information from a remote infrared video camera is sent to an app running on an iOS device such as an iPhone or iPod Touch. When an unusual event is detected, an alarm is sounded, followed by live sound and video from the SAMi network camera.  This powerful new tool for caregivers is now available (http://samialert.com/).  

4th Biennial Epilepsy Pipeline Update Conference 2014  
The Epilepsy Pipeline Update Conference, which includes the epilepsy "Shark Tank" live event, will be held June 5-7, 2014 at the Hyatt Regency San Francisco.  The conference brings together companies and scientific entrepreneurs at the cutting-edge of epilepsy and CNS pipeline advancement to present their strategies, product candidates and development programs to leading clinicians, angel, venture capital and industry investors and prospective corporate partners.  

Pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry executives, venture investors and members of the Wall Street community, in addition to scientists, technology transfer executives and members of the epilepsy community interested in learning about the most promising epilepsy and CNS therapies in the development pipeline, are invited to attend this comprehensive forum.  This year's event will again feature a family day, to be held on Saturday, June 7, 2014, with free registration for people with epilepsy, their families and friends. 

To register for the Epilepsy Pipeline Update Conference 2014 or obtain additional program information, please visit http://www.epilepsy.com/etp/pipeline2014/program.

About Epilepsy                                                                                  
When a person has two or more unprovoked seizures, they have epilepsy, which affects more than 2 million people in the United States and 65 million people worldwide.  This year, another 150,000 people in our country will be diagnosed with epilepsy.  Despite all available treatments, four out of 10 people with epilepsy continue to experience uncontrolled seizures while many more experience less than optimal seizure control.

About the Epilepsy Foundation
The Epilepsy Foundation, a national non-profit with 47 affiliated organizations throughout the United States, has led the fight against seizures since 1968.  The Foundation is an unwavering ally for individuals and families impacted by epilepsy and seizures.  The mission of the Epilepsy Foundation is to stop seizures and sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP), find a cure and overcome the challenges created by epilepsy through efforts including education, advocacy and research to accelerate ideas into therapies.  The Foundation works to ensure that people with seizures have the opportunity to live their lives to their fullest potential. For additional information, please visit www.epilepsy.com.

"Like" the Epilepsy Foundation on Facebook at www.facebook.com/epilepsyfoundationofamerica and follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/epilepsyfdn.

SOURCE Epilepsy Foundation

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