Highlights from the British Thoracic Society Winter Meeting 2016

In December 2016, Valeria Olivo attended the British Thoracic Society Winter Meeting in London, an event aimed at bringing together medical professionals with an interest in pulmonary diseases to present updates on current research in the field of respiratory medicine.

The British Thoracic Society Winter Meeting 2016 was held at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in London from 7th – 9th December. Key speakers from the UK and the USA attended and a wide range of topics related to respiratory medicine, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, sleep apnoea, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and pleural disease, were covered in symposia, spoken sessions and poster discussions.

Additionally, the British Thoracic Society press office issued press releases to promote relevant research and stories over the course of the three days. Some interesting studies covered included the development of a new blood test that could detect lung cancer cell antibodies at an earlier stage than any traditional scan (by Dr Alistair Dorward and colleagues, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, UK) and how home breathing devices could provide a better quality of life for people with severe lung disease (by Prof Nicholas Hart and Dr Patrick Murphy, Guy and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, UK).

We spoke to Dr Louise Wain, Associate Professor of Genetic Epidemiology at the University of Leicester, UK, who studies the genetic architecture of common complex respiratory diseases and has discovered genetic associations with lung function and COPD.

Dr Wain also co-led a study aimed at identifying the likelihood of a person to smoke and their predisposition to poor lung health using genetic data from participants in UK Biobank. The focus of Dr Wain’s current and future research is the utilization of large biobanks and resources with detailed phenotypic information, such as electronic healthcare records, to discover and refine genetic association signals for respiratory traits and disease (lung function, COPD, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and asthma) to inform drug target discovery and validation and approaches to precision medicine.

When we asked about her highlights of the 2016 British Thoracic Society Winter Meeting she was very enthusiastic about the presentations relating to respiratory disease subtypes and stratification and overlap with other diseases, particularly for Interstitial Lung Disease.

Overall, the 2016 British Thoracic Society Winter Meeting provided a great venue for discussion of a wide variety of topics related to respiratory health and the clinical and diagnostic challenges encountered daily by respiratory specialists.

The full conference program is available here.

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