Pulmonary Fibrosis, COPD, and Asthma Highlight ATS Meeting

Jim Kling

May 13, 2014

SAN DIEGO — Sessions on pulmonary fibrosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, pulmonary hypertension, and sepsis-induced lung injury will be among the highlights at the American Thoracic Society (ATS) 2014 International Conference.

The conference will be held May 16 to 21 in San Diego. It is expected to attract about 14,000 participants and will feature 5800 scientific abstracts and case reports.

"This is the premier meeting for pulmonary healthcare workers and researchers, so we want to attract academics, clinical practice physicians, industry and regulatory-oriented physicians, scientists, and nurses. We're not only targeting MDs and PhDs, but also allied healthcare providers. The spectrum of our programming is very broad," international conference committee chair Irina Petrache, MD, told Medscape Medical News. She is Calvin E. English professor of medicine, biochemistry, and molecular biology at Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis.

Boehringer Ingelheim will announce the first results from 2 pivotal phase 3 trials of the tyrosine kinase receptor inhibitor nintedanib in patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

COPD will be well covered at the meeting. Studies linking the condition to the risk for heart failure risk will be presented, as will evidence that exposure to higher temperatures might exacerbate COPD symptoms, a study demonstrating that an Internet-mediated exercise program improves patient quality of life, and research suggesting that a healthy diet can lead to better lung function.

Asthma research will also be highlighted. Abstracts have been submitted on the link between air pollution exposure during the second trimester of pregnancy and increased asthma risk in children, on the way the dietary intake of methyl donors during the first trimester can affect asthma risk in children, and on the dramatic improvement in asthma controller adherence with inhaler reminders.

Several phase 2 studies on the treatment of uncontrolled severe asthma, mild atopic asthma, and lung injury resulting from severe sepsis will be presented.

Sleep medicine is "one of our major clinical pillars," said Dr. Petrache. One study to be presented will examine the relation between obstructive sleep apnea and the incidence of stroke over a 14-year period and the association between apnea and stroke in women and men.

Critical care topics will include ventilator treatments for patients who have undergone cardiothoracic surgery and who have hypoxemia. "We'll hear what modalities of ventilation are most effective in addressing these critically ill patients," said Dr. Petrache.

In the era of concern about healthcare costs, value of care will be an important topic, with presentations on the cost-effectiveness of a number of interventions in critically or chronically ill patients. One study will look at how home testing and management of obstructive sleep apnea can reduce cost without affecting the efficacy of treatment.

Access to healthcare is important, especially in the field of pulmonary critical care and sleep medicine. ATS president Patricia Finn, MD, chair of the Department of Medicine at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Chicago, chose access to healthcare as the highlight of her tenure. "There is a whole session dedicated to addressing health disparities in our field," Dr. Petrache said.

To add some local flavor, "we wanted to celebrate the contributions of scientists and clinicians from San Diego," Dr. Petrache explained. A session will explore historic and contemporary contributions to the field of chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension made by researchers from the Department of Pulmonary Vascular Medicine at the University of California at San Diego Health System. The center has played a key role in our understanding of the disease.

A feature of that session will be a presentation on a drug that is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension. "I think physicians who deal with pulmonary hypertension will find this session very instructive," Dr. Petrache said.

Dr. Petrache has disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

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