Synergy Vision team members have attended the American Thoracic Society (ATS) International Conference every year since 2007, and it promises to be another lively event this year, with a program filled with a host of high‑profile speakers.

The Opening Ceremony will feature a talk by Nobel Laureate James Heckman, who has devoted his professional life to understanding the origins of major social and economic problems. His latest publication is about ‘The lifecycle benefits of an influential early childhood program’. The title of his keynote address at ATS 2017 has not yet been announced, but it promises to be highly interesting and informative.

As in previous years, asthma and COPD feature strongly in the programme, and these conditions will be covered in the popular daily ‘Clinical Year in Review’, in which key opinion leaders will review 5–7 of the most influential publications of the previous year.

Thought-provoking pro-con debates will cover hot topics in fields such as COPD, including the use of eosinophils as a biomarker for the disease, and hospitalizations and re-admissions for COPD exacerbations. There is currently debate within the respiratory literature as to whether blood eosinophil counts can be used as a biomarker to determine which patients with COPD are most likely to benefit from treatment with an inhaled corticosteroid (ICS). Exacerbations are a common cause of emergency admission and have high associated costs, so there will also be debate over whether interventions can reduce costly COPD readmissions.

Many of these COPD ‘hot topics’ will be found in thematic poster sessions such as ‘Eosinophils and COPD’ and ‘New concepts in COPD exacerbations’, and in oral presentations such as ‘The revolving door: COPD hospitalization and readmission’.

Another theme within the asthma and COPD section will be how treatment is moving towards an increasingly personalized approach. Personalized medicine takes many forms, such as ensuring an accurate diagnosis, treating comorbidities, exploring reasons for non-adherence and the use of biomarkers to determine the best course of treatment. Personalized medicine is evaluated in a ‘COPD phenotypes’ poster discussion on Tuesday and a ‘Novel biomarkers in lung disease’ thematic poster session on Wednesday. The popular ‘Meet the Professor’ seminars will also cover this topic and will include ‘Biomarkers in severe asthma’ and ‘Targeted therapy for COPD: Have we reached an era of personalized medicine?’.

A mini symposium, ‘COPD advances in therapy’, will highlight results from trials such as DACCORD, an ongoing real-world evidence trial evaluating COPD management in Germany, and FLAME and FULFUL, which compare the effects of long-acting muscarinic antagonist (LAMA)/long-acting beta agonist (LABA) and LAMA/LABA/ICS therapy vs LABA/ICS on lung function and quality of life.

Lastly, there is a need for clinical guidelines that capture these improvements and advancements. The Global Initiative for Chronic Lung Disease (GOLD) has published a major revision of recommendations for COPD care, which will be communicated during a session on the last day of the meeting, ‘Putting the 2017 GOLD COPD recommendations into clinical practice’. The most significant change is to the ABCD grading system, where the new grades no longer include spirometry as a diagnostic tool to determine the severity of COPD. New insights will also be discussed for a more personalized approach to care using escalation and de-escalation strategies.

The team at Synergy Vision will be keeping track of the latest developments in respiratory medicine at ATS 2017. Please follow us on Twitter, where will be posting highlights of the conference:


By Alexis Pashiardis