August 2, 2010

Exciting Changes to Scientific Program at The Liver Meeting® 2010

AASLD News: July 29, 2010
By Arun J. Sanyal, MD, AASLD President

This year’s Liver Meeting® received a record-breaking number of abstracts and registration is now open. I recently had the opportunity to meet with the Scientific Program Committee and put the scientific program together for the meeting and would like to share my excitement and provide a preview of some of the offerings at The Liver Meeting® which make this the premier meeting related to liver diseases worldwide.

Hepatitis at the Liver Meeting

This year, the Postraduate Course will focus on viral hepatitis. This course is also extraordinarily timely given the intense interest generated by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) report and the follow up actions by AASLD outlined previously in this column. The Presidents Choice Lecture will be delivered by the honorable Dr. Howard Koh, Assistant Secretary of Health, United States government, who will outline federal initiatives to translate the IOM report into a plan to control the burden of viral hepatitis in the United States. These talks will be complemented by the clinical Leon Schiff State-of-the-Art Lecture, to be delivered by Dr. David Goldstein, on how recent advances in the genetic determinants of treatment response may allow tailoring treatment to the individual.

Clinical Trials

Several large clinical trials will be presented that are likely to be game changers in the practice of hepatology. These include the final results of telaprevir with interferon and ribavirin (ADVANCE trial), and the use of Boceprevir in non-responders or relapsers to first-line therapy for hepatitis C. The final results of the TONIC trial of metformin or vitamin E versus placebo for NAFLD in children performed by the NIDDK NASH Clinical Research Network will also be presented and will have a major impact on the future management of this disease both in children and in adults.

Cancer as a Theme

A major theme to emerge this year relates to liver cancer. The Liver Cancer Special Interest Group (SIG) will host a symposium on cholangiocarcinoma to highlight the burning issues in the field. A detailed molecular classification of cholangiocarcinoma with specific clinical implications will also be presented in a plenary session. Also, a number of scientific advances in the understanding of the molecular pathogenesis of hepatocellular cancer will be presented. These will synergize with a special session on stem cells and their role in neoplastic transformation in the liver. The Thomas E. Starzl Transplant Surgery State-of-the-Art Lecture will be given by Dr. Michael Abecassis who will discuss the role of liver transplantation in the management of liver cancer.

State-of-the-Art Lectures

In addition to the aforementioned Schiff and Starzl State-of-the-Art Lectures, the Hyman Zimmerman Hepatotoxicity State-of-the-Art Lecture will be delivered by Gyongi Szabo, MD, PhD, on the role of innate immunity in modulating liver injury and the high-quality science in the areas of cell signaling and cell biology that have broad implications for both a healthy liver and a wide range of liver diseases. This is complemented by three sessions on nonalcoholic steatohepatitis and alcohol-related liver disease – an increase from the one session at last year’s meeting and based on the exceptionally high quality of science that was submitted.

The role of bile acids in hepatic physiology has been recognized for many decades. It is now recognized that the process of enterohepatic circulation of bile acids sends signals to the rest of the body about the availability of nutrition from the gut and the cross talk between the intestine and liver via bile acid signaling plays a central role in nutritional homeostasis. The cellular mechanisms of how this is accomplished will be the focus of the Hans Popper Basic Science State-of-the-Art Lecture to be delivered by Prof. Johann Auwerx. This information will be particularly relevant for everyone interested in the current epidemic of obesity, diabetes, and fatty liver disease.

A Focus on Clinicians and Surgeons

For the practicing clinician, the offerings will continue to increase with the General Hepatology Update, a selection of early morning sessions, clinical symposia on liver cancer, portal hypertension, and a new session called the Hepatitis Debrief, which will place all of the new information presented at the liver meeting in perspective. Another new feature at The Liver Meeting® is the Emerging Trends Symposium, which will focus on advances in imaging in liver diseases with a focus on the imaging of tumors, assessment of fibrosis, and measurement of hepatic venous pressure gradient. Similarly, for our surgical colleagues, a workshop on split liver transplantation, donor related issues, the role of genetics in determining post transplant outcomes for those with hepatitis C, and engineering a transplantable liver are just some of the highlights.

These are only some of the many novel and innovative scientific advances in hepatology that will be presented at The Liver Meeting®. There is no question that the scientific and clinical content of the meeting will exceed your expectations and I hope to see you all in Boston to celebrate the best that the field has to offer.

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