Friday, September 20, 2013

European Respiratory Society Congress 2013: What we will remember

The 23rd annual Congress of European Respiratory Society (ERS) held in Barcelona impressed by its’ scientific quality, originality and multidisciplinary collaborations.  More than 4,000 abstracts have provided a platform for discussion. Respiratory Decade would like to recall the most interesting themes and therefore the most attended sessions of this year.

Launch of European Lung White Book: Respiratory Health and Disease in Europe

 A major new publication for the Europe - European Lung White Book is a comprehensive publication that provides information on burden, cost and risk factor for a range of respiratory diseases (asthma, COPD, lung cancer, pneumonia, bronchitis, influenza, tuberculosis, cystic fibrosis, bronchiectasis, pulmonary fibrosis, sleep apnoea, pulmonary vascular disease). A substantial part of the book form the epidemiological data from more than 50 countries, means of prevention and treatment for a range of diseases. 

ERS President, Professor Francesco Blasi, said: “The European Lung White Book calls on countries with high rates of respiratory diseases, such as tuberculosis, but it also provides key recommendations to help policy makers address this issue.” The European Lung White Book is a common call on EU Member States to make air quality an integral part of their transport policies and national plans. 

Virtual monitoring could aid adherence to TB medication

The directly observed treatment (DOT), recommended by the World Health Organization is often time consuming for a patient and is resource intensive for outreach projects. The virtually observed treatment (VOT) method instead requires people to send a short video of them taking medication to their health provider using a mobile phone. After an initial visit to the clinic, this can be completed remotely. The effectiveness of the VOT technique was piloted by the researches from the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust. Nine people needing DOT were enrolled in the programme. Overall, the researchers observed 86% of scheduled doses. It was concluded that this was a feasible method of monitoring TB treatment programme in people able to use VOT. The outcomes of this pilot study suggest that telemedicine can help overcome the difficulty in direct monitoring of unengaged or hard-to-reach patients.

Electronic nose technology – new method for lung cancer diagnostics

Current tests for lung cancer include blood and urine tests, followed by CT scans and chest radiographs. The new method suggests people at a high risk of lung cancer could receive an initial breath test to quickly assess their symptoms. Previous research has shown that animals are capable of detecting diseases based on breath test. 

Scientists have been trying to replicate this in ‘electronic nose’ technology, which works by detecting different profiles of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in breath samples. The innovative part of the study suggests it is possible to differentiate lung cancer from different lung conditions and healthy people. Still the main problem with electronic nose technology is that it is individual, so each piece of equipment must be trained to distinguish between odours. Obviously it causes a problem of standardising the practice between different centres, which is supposed to be solved in the next step of the research. Meanwhile, the advantages of exhaled breath analysis by electronic nose are hard to deny: it is cheap, easy to do, non-invasive, sufficiently accurate and possible to do in a large number of patients at risk. 

In this way, ERS Annual Congress revealed the importance of innovative diagnostics and of the patient input into communicating science to the public.  
 Report from our Special Press Representative Mila Corlateanu

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