Conference Coverage

ACR 2016 continues big buffet of basic and clinical science sessions



This year’s annual meeting of the American College of Rheumatology will feature cutting-edge research and results of studies that directly affect how attendees will manage patients once they are back in the clinical setting, according to both Richard Loeser, MD, program chair of the Annual Meeting Planning Committee (AMPC), and Gregory Gardner, MD, clinical subchair of the AMPC, who suggested special sessions of interest culled from the more than 450 sessions to be presented.

“It is an exciting time in rheumatology. Basic research is being translated into new therapies before our very eyes. Areas on the program this year that have translational potential include immunometabolism, blocking interleukin-1 (IL-1), T-cell receptor signaling, and meta-analysis of gene expression data. The meeting will also feature trials that refine and advance the management of rheumatologic diseases, including results on studies of new biologics,” Dr. Loeser said.

Dr. Richard Loeser

Dr. Richard Loeser

Hot sessions

Luke O’Neill, MD, will talk about immunometabolism Monday at 7:30 a.m. This session will explore a newly described connection between energy metabolism and the immune system and the link with inflammation.

Charles Dinarello, MD, will give the Philip Hensch Memorial Lecture Sunday at 8:30 a.m. on blocking IL-1 in inflammatory diseases. He will cover a host of diseases from gout to cancer, Dr. Loeser noted.

Another hot topic, T-cell receptor signaling in autoimmune diseases and the development of new therapies, will be discussed by Arthur Weiss, MD, Tuesday morning at 7:30 a.m.

Tuesday at 11:00 a.m., Peter Lipsky, MD, will tackle big data mining, presenting a meta-analysis of gene expression datasets to identify novel pathways and targets in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).

“SLE lags behind rheumatoid arthritis in therapeutic advances. A number of trials of biologics have failed in SLE, whereas they have been found effective in rheumatoid arthritis,” Dr. Loeser explained.

Clinical slant

Sunday’s Plenary session at 11:00 a.m. will feature several top-rated abstracts, among them results of a phase III study on tocilizumab in giant cell arteritis to be presented by John Stone, MD. “Tocilizumab is a major breakthrough as a steroid-sparing treatment for the most common form of vasculitis that affects older adults,” Dr. Loeser said.

At 2:30 p.m. on Sunday at The Great Debate, Paul Emery, MD, and Arthur Kavanaugh, MD, will tackle the very important clinical topic of “To Taper or Not to Taper? – Biologic DMARDs in Low Rheumatoid Arthritis Disease Activity.”

“People aren’t sure what to do. The fear with tapering is rebound, with the disease coming back even more forcefully. There is new evidence to suggest that tapering may be safe under certain circumstances. This session should inform attendees on how to make the decision to taper and on the best way to do it,” Dr. Loeser commented.

The Late-Breaking Abstract session on Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. will feature six clinical trials. Dr. Loeser singled out a study to be presented by Elaine Husni, MD, on “Vascular Safety of Celecoxib versus Ibuprofen or Naproxen” in more than 20,000 patients with osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis.

“The fear is that COX-2 inhibitors have increased cardiovascular risk. The data from this study that will be presented at the meeting should answer the question of whether or not this is true in patients with arthritis,” Dr. Loeser explained.

Wednesday at 7:30 a.m. Candida Fratazzi, MD, will talk about “Emerging Biosimilars in Therapeutic Management,” a subject of great interest since they have the potential to be equally effective and less expensive than current biologics.

Two “bookends” of the meeting will frame the opening and closing. Sunday at 7:30 a.m., the “Year in Review” session will feature the best published studies on rheumatologic diseases from the past year, based on the judgment of two experts. Ingrid Lundberg, MD, will present the best clinical studies and Bruce Cronstein, MD, will present the best basic science studies. Wednesday at 7:30 a.m., John Cush, MD, and Dr. Kavanaugh will present the “Rheumatology Roundup” of the best abstracts and put them into context. “This session is usually quite entertaining,” Dr. Loeser said.

Dr. Gregory Gardner

Dr. Gregory Gardner

More sessions of clinical import

“In keeping with our meeting theme of fine-tuning our care of patients with rheumatic disease, I want to point out several sessions,” Dr. Gardner said.

Attendees interested in sessions on clinical applicability will have to choose between two different sessions Monday at 4:30 p.m.: one on dermatomyositis, a relatively rare but difficult-to-treat entity, and the other about treatment of the patient with rheumatoid arthritis when the patient is not well and suffering from comorbidities.

Monday at 8:30 a.m., an “Osteoporosis Update” will give listeners perspective on current and future therapies.

Sunday at 2:30 p.m., new guidelines for steroid-induced osteoporosis will be presented.

“Four or five sessions on the Tech Track will show rheumatologists how they can improve their practice by using technology,” Dr. Gardner said. “Several high-quality sessions are important to educators, including ‘Flipped Classroom, Technology, and Reflection’ [Monday at 12:30 p.m.] and ‘Year in Review’ [Sunday at 1:00 p.m.].”

Monday at 11:00 a.m., the Plenary session will feature Workforce Study results on how many rheumatologists will be needed in the year 2030, and in which geographic locations. This session will also include a discussion of the impact of part-time rheumatologists.

“Two sessions I am excited about are ‘Treat to Target in 2016,’ Tuesday at 4:30 p.m., and ‘Rheumatic Diseases in Native Americans,’ Sunday at 11:00 a.m.,” Dr. Gardner noted. “Concurrent abstract sessions throughout the meeting will feature discussions on new biologics, small molecules, and gene therapy.”

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