Biggest exposition in laboratory medicine? Check. Largest scientific meeting in the field? This is it. Hot science and networking bliss? Right here. All things you probably already knew. CLN editors have marked our calendars for some highlights of which you might not be aware.
1. Back to the Future
People talk a lot about disruptive technology, but sometimes the list of what is going to get smaller, faster, and cheaper sounds more like wishful thinking than a technology coming soon to a lab near you. Not so with two sessions at this year’s 68th AACC Annual Scientific Meeting, “Technologies That Could Change the Future of the Clinical Laboratory,” parts I and II. We expect to see real examples of technologies like drone transportation for clinical laboratory samples, new sampling techniques that could upend the phlebotomy paradigm, and the latest microfluidics married to high-pressure mass spectrometry.
Lots of science is packed into that short acronym, which stands for “clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats.” This is one of those developments in science that gives us goosebumps and is inspiring scientists to change their thinking. The CRISPR technique represents gene editing that’s fast, precise, and shows incredible possibilities. We’ll hear a lot about it in the session “Correcting Nature’s Mistakes and Beyond: The Promise of Gene Therapy.” In a recent study, researchers created stem cells from a patient’s skin, then used CRISPR to repair a defective gene related to inherited vision loss. The stem cells could potentially be transformed into healthy retinal cells for the patient.
3. World-Class Plenaries
The AACC Annual Scientific Meeting is known for thought-provoking plenaries from some of the biggest names in science. Each year brings new scientific and clinical revelations. In 2016, we’ll hear about programmable bio-nano-chips, a strategy to halve premature death, epigenetic underpinnings of disease, smoke from electrosurgical knives analyzed by mass spectrometry, and a seminal lecture on “The Great Cannabis Experiment.”
4. Hepatitis C Virus (HCV)
Despite a revolution in treating HCV, many in medicine question whether new, curative therapies mean the end of this epidemic. Three special sessions at the meeting will explore treatment and prevention; a debate on the future of HCV; and the latest science on laboratory testing. In fact, researchers at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore recently published a report that recommends universal screening, as profiled in “The Sample” this month (page 6). The Hopkins researchers believe universal screening could capture up to 25% of undiagnosed HCV infections that otherwise would go undetected.
5. Elizabeth Holmes
The founder and CEO of Theranos is expected to present data and research on her company’s proprietary technology. AACC members have long been asking the blood analysis startup to present its data, and now Holmes will explain more about her technology at the premier scientific forum for laboratory medicine. AACC is emphasizing that the session is not an endorsement of Theranos’ technology, but a forum for AACC members and meeting attendees to see how it works, and ask questions without pre-screening by Theranos.