ITS Scientific Meeting 2012

State of the art developments in respiratory medicine were the focus of the Irish Thoracic Society Annual Scientific Meeting 2012 which took place in Limerick in November. A record number of delegates heard from leading international experts about the latest innovations in asthma genomics and Non-invasive ventilation for both acute and chronic respiratory disease. In addition there were almost 200 presentationsof the best of original research from centres throughout the Island of Ireland on the full spectrum of respiratory topics including COPD, lung cancer, asthma, cystic fibrosis, sleep disorders, tuberculosis and interstitial lung disease.

Professor William Cookson, Professor of Genomic Medicine and Head of Respiratory Science at Imperial College London delivered the first of two ITS Guest Lectures entitled Asthma Genomics and the Role of the Respiratory Biome. Professor Cookson presented his research in the field of genetic and environmental causes of asthma as well as reviewing other related research. In addition, he explored the relationship of respiratory diseases to the microbiome which exists in the human lungs, and its potential application to future therapies.
The second Irish Thoracic Society Guest Lecture was by Professor Nicholas Hill, Professor of Medicine at Tufts University, Boston on the Use of Non-Invasive Ventilation in Acute Respiratory Failure. Professor Hill reviewed the pathophysiology and causes of acute respiratory failure and the role of non-invasive ventilation in its therapy. Personal research and a review of the literature in this area were covered as well as modes of application of this therapy.
A Symposium on Non-Invasive Ventilation for Chronic Respiratory Failure heard from Professor John Moxham, Professor of Respiratory Medicine at King’s College London and again from Professor Nicholas Hill, Tufts University, Boston. The aetiology and pathophysiology of chronic respiratory failure and the inter-relationship between neural respiratory drive, pulmonary mechanics and breathlessness were explored. Standard as well as alternative modes of therapy for chronic respiratory failure due to varied causes were reviewed, in addition to the logic and mechanism of action of these therapies.
Highlights from the presentations of original research included an oral presentation by Dr Brian Kent, Pulmonary and Sleep Disorders Unit, St Vincent’s University Hospital Dublin and School of Medicine and Medical Science , University College Dublin titled ‘Severity of Sleep Disordered Breathing is an Independent Predictor of Glycaemic Health: the European Sleep Apnoea Cohort (ESADA) Study.’ The study looked at the relationship of obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome (OSAS) severity with diabetes mellitus (T2DM) prevalence and glycosylated haemoglobin (HbA1c) levels in a large European population. The study concluded that OSAS severity and nocturnal hypoxaemia predict both prevalent T2DM an dHbA1c levels even after rigorous adjustment for confounding variables including obesity, which may contribute to excess mortality in OSAS populations.
Another highlight was a presentation by Dr David O’Dwyer, School of Medicine and Medical Science, UCD and National Pulmonary Fibrosis Referral Centre, St Vincent’s University Hospital, Dublin titled ‘Defective Toll like Receptor 3 (TLR3) Function Promotes and Aggressive Clinical Phenotype in Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis Through DysregulatedFibroproliferation. Both presentations were joint recipients of the Boehringer Ingelheim Awards for Best Oral Presentations delivered at the meeting.
The Allen &Hanburys Award for Best Poster was presented to Vanessa Clarke on behalf of the Tobacco Free Research Institute, Dublin  for her poster titled Maternal Smoking Rates and Associated Adverse Birth Outcomes in an Irish Hospital Over the 10 year period 2000 – 2009.
The study examined smoking rates and prevalence of associated adverse birth outcomes in The Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital over a 10 year period. It found that although smoking prevalence declined over the period (29.6% – 17.4%) rates in teenage mothers remained high – 44.3% in 2009. Smoking prevalence was almost twice as high in mothers of low birth weight compared to normal birth weight babies and one and a half times higher in mothers of small for gestational age (SGA) babies compared to non SGA. It concluded that smoking prevalence rates in pregnancy are high in Ireland compared with other developed countries and increased efforts are needed to reduce this.

Dr. Aidan O’Brien
Consultant Respiratory Physician, Mid Western Regional Hospitals, Assistant Secretary, the Irish Thoracic Society and Local Organiser ITS Annual Scientific Meeting 2012