Exhibit exploration and Berlin bear bonanza!

Last night leaving the City Cube it was a mad dash to the S-Bahn station, as the skies darkened and the heavy rain began to fall, drenching all of us that had forgotten a coat or umbrella. Fortunately, it wasn’t long-lived and the sun was shining again this morning as I made my way back to the venue bright and early for a the 9.30am session Late breaking abstracts. It was really interesting to hear new data being presented on up-and-coming products, such as those in the monoclonal antibody class, that induce thrombin generation. Relating this back to my work, patients who have taken too much dabigatran often experience uncontrolled bleeds (and I measure their blood in the lab to see how high their dabigatran levels are) — and up until now there has been no elegant solution to counteract this. The research presented this morning by Dr Charles Pollack (US) from the RE-VERSE AD study, showed a prospective way to reverse the action of dabigatran in patients with uncontrolled bleeding or requiring urgent procedures, leading to potentially better outcomes for patients.

After jam-packing my first two days with symposia, seminars and posters, in today’s lunch break I took the opportunity to spend a couple of hours wandering around the three exhibition halls. Wow — so many booths, all looking decidedly unique with different interactive elements on offer. One theme I seemed to spot was virtual reality (VR) — all the big booths had VR headsets with intriguing scenarios to become a part of. My favourite activities on the booths I visited were the different VR scenarios and also a large interactive table, which taught the user about how to design a new factor VIII molecule.

These Berlin bears are everywhere at ISTH 2017 — these are just a few of them!

Whilst on my tour of the exhibit booths, I met another technical assistant and we spent a lot of time discussing one of the interactive tables we had seen. How incredible this technology could be as an educational tool to teach new, or less experienced, lab technicians all of the different aspects relating to factor VIII. If they can understand each element individually using this tool and then put it all together — then they’ve got it!

Playing around with VR at a booth

Factor VIII inhibitors in congenital and acquired haemophilia were next on today’s agenda. A really interesting session for me, as a study I am involved with was discussed by Prof. Peter Collins (UK; GTH-AH 01/2010 study). It was really exciting to see that the work I am doing at home day-to-day is a topic being presented at a global congress and that it is of interest to other participants. It made me feel like I am more than just a delegate visiting the sessions and that I have contributed, in a small way, to the sharing of knowledge at ISTH 2017. Prof. Collins summarised by covering what he believed should be future priorities in this therapy area. These included the requirement for better definition of risk factors for inhibitor formation and creation of a standardised approach to immune tolerance.

Couldn’t resist a picture with the main bear out front between sessions!

To finish off Day 3, I snuck in a little bit late to the Intrinsic coagulation pathway session. The preclinical research presented by Arjan van der Flier (US) was the most interesting of the abstracts listed. He spoke about the pharmacokinetic profiles of i.v. and s.c. administration of rFIX Fc-XTEN in Cynomolgus monkeys. I think these results could mean more hope for patients with the method of administration of their treatments — if the monkey study data holds true when in humans. Being able to give treatment less often, by a more comfortable route, can potentially improve the quality of life of patients living with haemophilia.

Right, off now to get some food and rest, ready for Day 4 tomorrow!

Dirk

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