AACC has one mission: to bring better healthcare to patients through laboratory medicine, and in an age where there’s a temptation to allow electronic communication to dictate, the annual meeting has become an increasingly important occasion. It’s an upbeat, committed event that fosters education and collaboration, whilst showcasing some of the most innovative advances in diagnostic technology, set to revolutionize clinical practice.
This year, in Chicago, more than 20,000 attendees and a record-breaking 819 exhibitors attended the 70th Annual Scientific Meeting and Clinical Lab Expo. Here, SelectScience reports on the exciting new research and technology that was presented on this prestigious scientific stage.
An inspiration to a generation
Every year, AACC welcomes five of the most highly celebrated professionals in the clinical sphere to deliver plenary speeches at the annual meeting. Dr. Brian Druker, who has inspired a generation of precision medicine in cancer, gave a fascinating presentation on his paradigm-changing discovery of the drug, imatinib, for acute myeloid leukemia. In an interview with Druker, we asked what his vision was for the future of cancer diagnostics:
“In my opinion, genetics provides 10 per cent of the information, but imagine if we could combine this with knowledge of the immuno phenotype, the proteome, the microbiome, and even the tumor microenvironment. We’ve got to break open the field of molecular diagnostics to detect and treat cancers earlier. That’s the future.”
Druker was honoured by the AACC for his contribution to the field of clinical practice and research, with the Wallace H. Coulter lectureship award.
Celebrating the exceptional
Every year at AACC, pioneers in the clinical field are recognized for their achievements in making a difference to the lives of patients around the world.
On this occasion, the AACC’s Disruptive Technology Award commended three innovators in biotechnology: Ativa Medical, GNA Biosolutions, and Two Pore Guys. While in the annual Scientists’ Choice Awards, best new clinical laboratory instrumentation of 2017 went to Abbott for the Alinity ci-series, and Best New Clinical Assay/Kit went to Bruker Daltonics for their MBT®STAR-Carba IVD Kit. The Reviewers’ Choice Award went to Abbott again for the Alere i, soon to be known as ID NOW, while Dr. Frank Peacock, Emergency Medicine Research Director at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, was recognized with the Clinical Video of the Year Award — in association with The Scientists’ Channel. The full list of winners can be viewed here.
Clinical chemists were also recognized for their participation in continuing education activities, having achieved at least 75 credits over 3 years. SelectScience has recently launched accredited educational webinars that are available to watch live, or on-demand. Register here for our next event on August 16, to learn from POC specialist Felicity Dempsey on how to standardize POCT instruments for clinical and operational excellence.
Early diagnosis and intervention in cancer was also a theme that presented itself in the technology on the show floor. Amid some captivating research presented at the poster session, the QX200 ddPCR platform from Bio-Rad was shown to accurately identify free nucleic acids in lung cancer patients. Author Elvis Cueva Mateo, head of R&D at the Hermes Pardini Institute, Brazil, described how this technology might enable clinicians to identify new mutations in aggressive tumors and introduce a rapid change of treatment before the severity of the disease progresses.
Siemens Healthineers announced that its high-sensitivity troponin assay (TnIH) was officially cleared by the FDA on July 25, and AACC was the perfect platform to celebrate this. Customers from around the world, including Dr. Antonio Buno, of La Paz University Hospital in Madrid, described how this new assay is already transforming cardiac triage in their emergency departments, and how aligning this with Siemens’ Atellica Solution has led to increased downtime and higher throughput in their clinical chemistry workflows. We were also excited to see new advances in the company’s POC division, such as the epoc® analyzer, which is a compact system that performs comprehensive blood analysis at the patient’s bedside.
Improved POC testing to accelerate decision making was a strong theme in the technology track. The newly launched afinion 2, by Abbott, aims to address the growing diabetes epidemic and provide better patient care. This small benchtop machine provides haemoglobin A1c readings in just three minutes!
Drama on the floor
The dramatic smoke-screen unveiling of the Vitros XT 7600 produced a real buzz on the exhibition floor on Tuesday morning. The new dryslide technology system, from Ortho Clinical Diagnostics, is a waterless system that eliminates time-consuming processes from the lab, whilst facilitating rapid clinical analysis from small sample volumes.
Another hot topic for discussion was sepsis. Lighting the way, with its innovative solutions, is Alifax: the Alfred 60AST fully-automated system detects bacterial presence and drug resistance in just a few hours. Fujirebio Diagnostics is also in the game, having recently launched the industry’s first procalcitronin assay for testing on its LUMIPULSE platform. Procalcitronin is an interesting biomarker specific to bacterial infections, that is proportional to the patient’s risk of developing sepsis.
Mass spectrometry also took central stage at AACC 2018. The theme this year? Streamlining workflows and data management. Waters displayed its innovative IVD solutions that span from sample through to result. SelectScience caught up briefly with mass spec experts and brown bag session speakers, Dr. Steven Wong and Professor Kamisha Johnson-Davies, on the here-and-now of clinical mass spectrometry.
More to come
Look out for our fascinating interview with 2018 AACC president, Dr. Dennis Dietzen, to hear how mass spec technology has evolved throughout his career, and how the AACC has helped to foster clinical excellence during his 25 years as a member — coming soon on The Scientists’ Channel.
In summary, AACC brought together a wonderful compendium of research and technology to be celebrated and discussed by over 20,000 professionals in the industry. We already cannot wait to see what 2019 has to offer in Anaheim, California!