Damian McNamara

February 16, 2016

LISBON, Portugal — Major trial findings on the prediction of organ manifestations in patients with early systemic sclerosis, the management of pulmonary artery hypertension, and the prevention of digital ulcers will be among the presentations here at the Systemic Sclerosis World Congress (SSWC) 2016, which, according to organizers, is now completely full.

"We are sold out for the Congress. There are hundreds more people who want to attend, but we don't have the space to accommodate them," said Dinesh Khanna, MD, from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, who is chair of the Clinical Committee for the Congress.

Among the highlights of the meeting will be the Scleroderma Lung II Study. Findings — including some on novel markers for lung fibrosis — will be shared during multiple sessions, Dr Khanna told Medscape Medical News.

Also featured will be data from the 10 to 12 international longitudinal patient registries.

The European Scleroderma Trials and Research (EUSTAR) "is the largest longitudinal cohort in the world, with more than 13,000 patients," Dr Khanna reported. "These analyses help us in day-to-day management, such as predicting the people with digital ulcers or poor prognoses." The international registries provide unparalleled guidance for researchers as well, who can refine their trial inclusion criteria, for example, to select the best candidates for a particular intervention.

On the last day of the Congress, there will be "very interesting" presentations "on emerging therapies and experimental models of scleroderma," he added. "That should provide some great insight."

The goal is always to have something that can be used by the community of practicing rheumatologists.

When the Clinical Committee was preparing the scientific program, the management of scleroderma emerged as a major theme. "The goal is always to have something that can be used by the community of practicing rheumatologists," said Dr Khanna. "We also tried to focus on the uncommon and neglected manifestations of scleroderma, such as genital involvement, pregnancy, and the limited cutaneous manifestations of scleroderma that nobody talks much about."

Among the goals of the Congress are to educate professionals from around the world, present novel translational and clinical data, and provide a platform for international collaboration, he explained. They are also "to get the scleroderma community together, for them to be aware of progress in what is usually considered a fatal disease, and to learn how to provide the standard of care treatment and best practices."

"There is a lot happening out there," he pointed out. "How can we improve our trial designs with all the new knowledge?"

On the opening evening of the Congress, Dr Khanna will summarize what has been learned from the main clinical trials conducted in the past 2 years.

Patient Congress

The final program provides details on scientific sessions, workshops, meet-the-professor events, and poster presentations. In addition, it outlines the patient program that runs concurrent to the physician-directed content. "The World Scleroderma Foundation has committed to having patient partners be part of the Congress from the beginning. We feel there has to be a partnership between the patient and the physician," Dr Khanna said.

The program "provides a great venue for physicians coming from all over the world to present to the patients. It's good to have this interaction," he added.

Dr Khanna reports receiving grant support from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and serving as a consultant for Amgen, Bayer, Biogen-Idec, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Cytori, Gilead, Genetech/Roche, Genkyotex, and sanofi-aventis.


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