This July will see the 8th International Prader-Willi Syndrome Organisation Conference held at Fitzwilliam College in Cambridge.
Prader-Willi Syndrome (PWS) is a genetic disorder of obesity which affects the 15th chromosome. PWS is associated with mild-moderate intellectual disability and most strikingly, an apparently insatiable appetite which can lead to death. There is currently no cure for PWS and many families have to resort to locking fridges and cupboards.
The event, which takes place every three years, will be hosted by the Cambridge Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Group, as part of the Department of Psychiatry. The last time this event took place was in Tapei, Taiwan in 2010.
Prader-Willi Syndrome research is strongly represented in Cambridge and Prof Tony Holland, head of CIDDRG, is current President of the Prader-Willi Syndrome Association UK. “This is a fantastic opportunity to bring researchers together to understand the strides we have made in understanding this condition, and the questions that still need to be explored”, said Prof Holland.
“PWS is a very complex condition affecting many aspects of physiology. Understanding it better will enable us to develop treatments and will offer insight into the development of obesity in the general population, which as we are all aware, is a pressing health concern.”
The conference is unusual in that it combines both a scientific programme and a programme for caregiver’s and families. One of the family day presentations will be from participants who have recently taken part in a long-term CIDDRG study led by Prof Holland, Dr Howard Ring and Prof Paul Fletcher.
Katie Manning, a PhD student in the Department, coordinated this trial, which investigated the use of an electronic device to curb hunger signals. “The IPSWO conference provides an important opportunity for the international PWS research community, often separated by long distances, to meet and discuss current understanding and ideas, alongside individuals with PWS and their families” said Katie.
Katie also hopes that attending IPSWO will spark further ideas for her PhD. “As a research student, attending such meetings provides an exciting chance to learn what other research teams are doing all over the world and enhance my knowledge to inform my own studies.”