Meet Dr. Soon-Tae Lee!

May 14, 2021

Dr. Soon-Tae Lee (Seoul National University Hospital – South-Korea) has been awarded the AEA Community Seed Grant to investigate the Development of optimal clinical approaches in seronegative autoimmune encephalitis. Learn more about his study and how this will affect those affected with seronegative autoimmune encephalitis (AE).

You have been awarded the AEA Community Seed Grant, can you tell us more about the study you plan to do?

Seronegative autoimmune encephalitis is AE without any identifiable pathogenic antibody. Although it is the major subtype of AE, very little has been systematically investigated in the disease. Accordingly, not only the patients/families but also the treating physicians confront diagnostic uncertainty, difficulty in deciding appropriate immunotherapy, and inability to predict the final prognosis. This study will investigate the clinical spectrum of seronegative AE, efficacy of multiple immunotherapeutic agents, optimal duration of immunotherapy and MRI follow-ups, and outcome prediction score. Our team of neurologists, radiologists, and clinical coordinators will collaborate to develop a large-scale clinical data set from our institutional cohort of seronegative AE, and will analyze them to find out the answers for the aims. 

How will your study help patients and families affected by seronegative AE?

Compared to the seropositive AE, there has been much more unmet needs for seronegative AE. The etiology of the disease is heterogeneous, and we don’t know what is the best treatment and what factors decide the prognosis. I hope this study will help patients with seronegative AE to have more evidence-based treatments and predictable care, as like those with seropositive AE.

Tell us more about yourself and your affiliation? 

I am a Professor in Neurology, Seoul National University Hospital, Seoul, South Korea. Seoul National University Hospital is a national referral hospital for rare disease including autoimmune encephalitis. Since 2014, I am operating a prospective cohort of autoimmune encephalitis and the only antibody diagnostic lab for the disease. My research is focused on novel treatments of autoimmune encephalitis. Although treatments of autoimmune encephalitis are improving rapidly, many patients still have poor responses to the current immunotherapies, resulting in long-standing disease burdens. To develop better therapeutic protocols, I research the mechanism of refractoriness and conduct clinical trials using novel immunotherapeutic agents in the disease. 

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