International Congress for Ataxia Research - The Future Looks Promising

November 11, 2022

Photo of International Congress for Ataxia Research signage

Representatives from the Oxford-Harrington Rare Disease Centre (OHC) attended the International Congress for Ataxia Research (ICAR) conference in Dallas, TX from 1-4 November 2022. The four-day meeting was organised and co-hosted by Ataxia UK, the Friedreich's Ataxia Research Alliance and the National Ataxia Foundation. The plenary sessions covered Disease Mechanisms, Cerebellar Non-motor Circuits and Functions, Emerging and Existing Therapies and Late-breaking Research, spanning the breadth of types of ataxia. The meeting was attended by over 450 delegates representing academia, industry and patient advocacy organisations. Alongside the plenary sessions, the meeting featured breakout sessions, flash talks, workshops, panel discussions, interactive debates, clinical grand rounds, an impactful patient panel and an extensive poster session on all aspects of ataxia research and clinical practice.

Poster session in the conference centre main hall

The ICAR meeting was directly followed by the Ataxia Global Initiative Conference, which focused on clinical trial readiness for the ataxias. Clinical trial readiness ensures that as therapies progress towards the clinic, the field is ready and prepared with the necessary patient registries, natural history data sets, biomarkers and outcome measures that are required to test emerging therapies in patients and have the best chance of conducting successful trials.

The OHC remains committed to identifying and supporting projects aimed at developing therapies for the ataxias as part of our Neurological Disorders theme. We named Friedreich’s Ataxia (FA) as a disease priority for the OHC and were encouraged to see so much promising activity aimed towards developing a therapy to treat or cure FA. The meeting featured a wealth of presentations on FA research and therapeutic development and we look forward to supporting further efforts in this space via the OHC. 

The OHC took advantage of having some of its FA Alliance at Oxford members and many other UK-based ataxia investigators together in Dallas to hold a gathering at the conference to share some top level thoughts and opinions on priorities for the field and ways to collaborate going forwards. This initial discussion was enthusiastic and productive and has helped set the agenda for the next meeting of the FA Alliance at Oxford back on UK shores.