'Enormous Diversity' of Topics Await ENDO 2017 Attendees

Miriam E Tucker

March 24, 2017

New research on endocrine disruptors, a novel class of drugs for menopausal hot flashes, a panel on transgender medicine, and a debate from two world-famous experts about the usefulness of new drugs for treating type 2 diabetes are among the attractions that attendees of ENDO 2017 can look forward to.  

Other highlights of this year's meeting, taking place April 1–4 in Orlando, Florida, include: results from a trial on deep transcranial magnetic stimulation for treating obesity via the microbiome; plenaries on steroid abuse among athletes; and a presentation on oxytocin and the biology of attachment, as well as joint sessions with the concurrent meeting of the American Association of Endocrine Surgeons.

"What's special about this meeting is the enormous diversity in the kinds of presentations and topics. The breadth of the meeting is amazing. People should come to this meeting both to be able to delve deeply into what they do the most, but also — and this is very important, I think — to use the meeting to refresh their visions about what it means to study endocrinology," Henry M Kronenberg, MD, president of the Endocrine Society, told Medscape Medical News.

Indeed, added program chair Gary D Hammer, MD, PhD, "Endocrinology by definition is an integrated field….The value of [the ENDO meeting] is you can dive deep from the right side of clinical care and also dip your toe into the basic science of what you're trying to understand clinically."

New Drug Classes and Novel Research…

On April 1, an oral abstract session will include some of the latest worrisome findings on endocrine-disrupting chemicals, including acceleration of male pubertal development by the pesticide pyrethroid, multiplication of breast-cancer cells following exposure to bisphenol-S, and early-life bisphenol A exposure reprogramming gene expression linked to fatty liver.

"This is all about the environment and how it's affecting human health.…It's very important," said Dr Hammer, who is director of the endocrine oncology program at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Late-breaking studies, being presented on April 3, include two presentations on neurokinin 3 (NK3) receptor antagonists as novel treatments for menopausal hot flashes, along with results from the REPLENISH trial of the combination 17β-estradiol and progesterone combined in a single capsule, for the same indication.  

The NK inhibitors, small molecules that affect hypothalamic neuroendocrine signaling, are first in class and could represent a safer alternative to hormone therapies, Dr Hammer noted.

Other clinical abstracts will address the use of the oral 11β-hydroxylase inhibitor osilodrostat for the treatment of Cushing's disease, leptin for lipodystrophy, continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) for women with gestational diabetes and sleep apnea, and use of the artificial pancreas in young children (aged 5–8 years).

According to Dr Hammer, "We need new classes of drugs for Cushing's. It's such a difficult disease to treat. All current drugs are fraught with metabolic challenges.…This is an early study."

And of a trial entitled Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (dTMS) Exerts Anti-Obesity Effects Via Microbiota Modulation" being presented in a late-breaking poster on April 2, Dr Hammer remarked, "The connection of the brain to obesity is always interesting, but this is almost science fiction."

Plenaries of Plenty Include Transgender Doctor as Speaker

Of the six plenary talks taking place from Saturday through Monday, Dr Kronenberg, who is chief of the endocrine division at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, said: "Every member should want to attend. These are the lynchpins of the meeting, the high points. They've been very carefully designed to appeal to clinicians as well as clinical and basic investigators."

And Dr Hammer noted, "The plenaries are spectacular this year. They explore the role of endocrinology, science, and clinical care into other aspects of human biology and society that we don't always think about in terms of clinical endocrinology."

One in particular flagged by both Drs Kronenberg and Hammer — "Gender Biology and the Care of Associated Variations" — will feature three speakers, rather than the two for the other plenaries.

Catherine Dulac, PhD, is a Harvard neuroendocrinologist who discovered pheromones, Guy G T'Sjoen, MD, PhD, from Ghent University Hospital in Belgium, is a clinician specializing in transgender care, and the third speaker is Rachel L Levine, MD, an adolescent medicine specialist who works at the Pennsylvania Department of Health in Harrisburg, who is herself transgender.

"Dr Levine is one of the few transgender people in high office. She will be giving her unique perspective both personally and professionally," Dr Kronenberg observed.

Dr Hammer stressed that transgender medicine is "a growing field with the endocrinologist front and center in the pediatric and adult space." And, he said, the inclusion of Dr Levine as a patient participating in the meeting is also significant.

"The Endocrine Society has been working to engage patients more deeply in the society.…We hope that this is just the beginning of a continued and increasing engagement."

The other five plenaries are:

  • The Influence of the Microbiome in Childhood.

  • Lessons from Hormone Abuse in the Elite Athlete.

  • The Long and the Short of Steroids, their Receptors and Mendelian Hypertension.

  • Got Milk? Oxytocin and the Biology of Attachment: It's Not Just for Lactation Anymore.

  • Coming of Age in the Teenage Brain.

According to Dr Kronenberg, "All of the speakers are world-famous experts who deserve the large plenary audience."

Diabetes Debate, Knockout Rounds, and a Joint Session With Surgeons

On Sunday, April 2, "The Diabetes Dilemma: How to Treat Type 2 Diabetes?" will feature a head-to-head debate between advocate of using newer drugs, Daniel J Drucker, MD, of Mt Sinai Hospital, Toronto, Ontario, and naysayer David M Nathan, MD, of Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston.

Dr Drucker will argue that the new type 2 diabetes drugs represent "true innovation with real patient benefits," while Dr Nathan will counter with the question "Are we benefiting anyone other than pharma?"

Dr Kronenberg predicts a good match: "We will hear vigorously from both of them."

This year's meeting will also continue and expand a popular feature introduced in 2016, the "Knockout rounds," in which trainees and early-career endocrinologists will be given 3 minutes and allowed a single slide to present their research. The audience and "an esteemed" panel of judges will then choose the best presentations. These will take place on Saturday and Sunday.

"They're like mini TED talks….We've expanded these sessions to help trainees communicate to the public," Dr Hammer explained.

And for the first time, the ENDO 2017 will hold joint sessions with the American Association of Endocrine Surgeons (AAES), which is holding its annual conference in Orlando at the same time. There will be several joint symposia and poster sessions, including a Monday session, "Challenging Cases from Surgeons and Endocrinologists," where speakers will share cases and discuss them together.

Dr Hammer noted that in his area, endocrine oncology, "most of clinical practice is within multidisciplinary teams, including the endocrinologist, the endocrine surgeon, and the medical oncologist.

"As program chair, I wanted to turn that philosophy into practice at the meeting….The Endocrine Society has partnered with AAES in such a way that the intersection will be very valuable, particularly for the practicing endocrinologist engaged in the care of patients with diseases in which surgery needs to be involved, such as thyroid nodules and thyroid and adrenal cancer."

Indeed, Dr Kronenberg commented, ENDO 2017 will provide attendees with "a tremendously broad experience of endocrinology over a several-day period....It's a different meeting for every single individual."

Dr Hammer is the founder of Millendo Therapeutics. Dr Kronenberg receives grant support from Amgen and has consulted for Novartis.

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