At the 71st AACC Annual Scientific Meeting & Clinical Lab Expo, laboratory medicine experts will present the cutting-edge research and technology that is revolutionizing clinical testing and patient care. From August 4-8 in Anaheim, California, the meeting's 200-plus sessions will deliver insights on a broad range of timely healthcare topics. Highlights of these include discussions exploring direct-to-consumer genetic testing, precision medicine's progress to date, how genes shape the brain circuitry that defines human behavior, and emerging technologies ranging from new cannabis tests to extremely rapid molecular diagnostics.
Direct-to-consumer genetic testing. The popularity of consumer genetic testing is rising exponentially, with as many people buying these tests in 2018 as in all previous years combined. A special session will shed light on the little-understood nuances of direct-to-consumer genetic tests, with a focus on how healthcare professionals can enable patients to benefit from these tests while also raising public awareness about their limitations.
Precision medicine. Precision medicine is the practice of tailoring treatment based on the results of genetic and other tests that identify which interventions patients will respond to best. In theory, this approach could revolutionize healthcare, but in practice, the medical community has struggled to implement it in a widespread manner. David R. Walt, PhD, of Harvard Medical School, will kick off the meeting with a keynote about how to solve one of the biggest challenges holding precision medicine back: the difficulty of translating promising research discoveries into tests and treatments that impact patient health.
Virginia Kaklamani, MD, DSc, of the University of Texas Health San Antonio MD Anderson Cancer Center, will examine how precision medicine identifies breast cancer patients who will respond to targeted therapeutics—including those unlikely to respond to chemotherapy, thereby helping them to avoid this toxic treatment.
Lastly, Euan Ashley, MB ChB, DPhil, of the Stanford Center for Inherited Cardiovascular Diseases, will highlight new genomic sequencing technologies that could drive precision medicine forward, while also exploring precision medicine's likely near-term uses—such as in solving the mystery of unidentifiable diseases.
The genetics of human behavior. In another plenary session, Julie Korenberg, MD, PhD, of the Center for Integrated Neuroscience and Human Behavior at the University of Utah, will explain how genetic mutations lead to changes in brain circuitry that cause cognitive deficits. Understanding this could lead to medications for developmental disorders such as Down and Williams syndrome, while also elucidating the underpinnings of human behavior.
Emerging technology. It is critical to understand marijuana's effects on driving performance now that numerous states have legalized recreational and medicinal use of this drug. A late-breaking session will discuss how mass spectrometry is helping to shed light on this issue, along with other groundbreaking applications of this up-and-coming diagnostic technology.
In the meeting's closing keynote, Carl Wittwer, MD, PhD, of the University of Utah, will explore extremely rapid molecular diagnostics that provide answers within seconds, and that could enable immediate diagnosis and treatment for a broad range of conditions.
Additionally, at the Clinical Lab Expo, more than 800 exhibitors will display innovative technologies that are just coming to market in every clinical lab discipline.
"Laboratory medicine's capacity to improve quality of life is constantly growing, with cutting-edge diagnostic technologies emerging every day in areas as diverse as cancer, neurology, genomics, and drug testing," said AACC CEO Janet B. Kreizman. "The 71st AACC Annual Scientific Meeting will spotlight the pioneers in laboratory medicine who are mobilizing these innovations to enhance patient care."