ACTRIMS president Jeffrey Cohen, MD, offered insight into what’s to come from the upcoming Americas Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis Annual Forum 2022.
The Americas Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ACTRIMS) Forum 2022 is set to begin in West Palm Beach, Florida, on February 24, with an accompanying virtual component running concurrently. The meeting will feature a variety of sessions and presentations by experts in the care of patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), covering several aspects of treatment and management, including emerging concepts in disease mechanisms, biomarkers of disease progression, cutting-edge therapeutic developments, and more.
This year, the meeting will run in line with a theme of one of the aforementioned aspects of MS research: Biomarkers in MS. The Forum will follow a singular track of scientific and clinical presentations that feature an interactive environment, rich with networking opportunities for attendees. The meeting’s 2 poster sessions will showcase an estimated 300 posters.
Jeffrey Cohen, MD, professor of neurology, Cleveland Clinic, and president, ACTRIMS, told NeurologyLive® that “there will be sessions on biomarkers to detect the disease before it presents clinically, to understand the disease process, and to monitor the disease and response to therapy. That's the main theme of the meeting, and then there are a number of other components to the meeting added on to that.”
The opening day, Thursday, February 24, will feature a session on biomarkers of MS susceptibility and prodrome, chaired by Mitzi Joi Williams, MD, and Adil Harroud, MD, which will include presentations on the genetic associations with MS susceptibility by Phillip L. De Jager, MD, PhD; the effect of fecal transplant on cortical pathology by Jen Gommerman, PhD; imaging biomarkers of radiologically isolated syndrome and the MS prodrome by Jiwon Oh, MD, PhD; and insights from twin CSF data and the MS prodrome by Eduardo Beltran, PhD.
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Also on Thursday will be the opening remarks & Kenneth P. Johnson Memorial Lecture, beginning at 9:00 am ET. This year’s lecture will be given by Ruth Ann Marrie, MD, PhD, and is titled, “Comorbidity in Multiple Sclerosis: What, So What, What Now?” Cohen noted that much of Marrie’s research has helped identify comorbidities as an important issue in MS, as their incidence impacts several facets of care.
“Comorbidities can delay the diagnosis, and lead to an increased rate of accumulation of disability, by contributing to the damage in the central nervous system that MS produces. In addition, comorbidities represent a very important target for therapy, so that we can prevent and hopefully reverse disability by treating some of the comorbid conditions,” he said.
Cohen also noted that a priority of ACTRIMS has been to develop and highlight young investigators, which the Forum will feature in the first session following Marrie’s lecture, which is chaired by Daniel Reich, MD, PhD, and Catherine Larochelle, MD, MSc. “I always look forward to the sessions devoted to the young investigators where they get a chance to present their work. It's really gratifying to see the high quality of the work being done by emerging scientists,” Cohen said.
In the Emerging Concepts in MS session, chaired by Reich and Larochelle, there will be 6 platform presentations by young investigators, highlighting cutting edge studies that aim to increase the understanding of the pathogenic mechanisms in MS, introduce novel measures to capture disease activity, and advance treatment options for affected individuals. Those presentations include the following:
Thursday will close with the first poster session of the meeting, with even-numbered posters presenting from 5:30-6:00 PM ET, and odd-numbered posters presenting from 6:00-6:30 PM ET.
The ensuing day, Friday, February 25, will include a session chaired by Andrew Solomon, MD, and Kevin R. Patel, MD, on biomarkers related to MS pathophysiology and diagnosis, including presentations by Claudia Cantoni, PhD; Pascal Sati, PhD; Fiona Costello, MD; and Giuliana Fadda, MD, on single-cell RNA sequencing, the central vein sign, OCT’s utility in visual pathway problem diagnosis, and biomarkers of MS in children, respectively. Later that day, there will be a session on prognostic biomarkers of MS and neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder, chaired by Christina J. Azevedo, MD, and Sarah Morrow, MD, MS, FRCPC, FAAN.
Friday will also feature the National MS Society’s Barancik Prize for Innovation in MS Research presentation and talk, which this year has been awarded to Amit Bar-Or, MD, FRCPC, FAAN, FANA, chief, Multiple Sclerosis Division, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania. Additionally, the second of the 2 poster sessions will begin at 5:15 PM, with even-numbered posters presenting from 5:30-6:00 PM ET, and odd-numbered posters presenting from 6:00-6:30 PM ET.
Saturday, February 26, the final day of the Forum, will feature a session on biomarkers of progressive MS, chaired by Nathalie Arbour, PhD, and Christopher C. Hemond, MD; and then, ahead of the closing remarks for the 2022 Forum, a session chaired by Jack Antel, MD, and Jason Plemel, PhD, on biomarkers of remyelination, repair, and treatment in MS.
“The other thing to mention would be that one of the things we've strived to do in the ACTRIMS Forum—even though we have a single track, meaning that everybody's in the same room at the same time, rather than a number of things going on simultaneously—is to design a program that has, as it were, something for everybody. Ranging from basic laboratory science to clinical science, to clinical material, and then imaging and other modalities,” Cohen said. “The idea is that there'll be cross-fertilization and interactions between people that have different interests and different areas of expertise. That's actually one of our conscious intentions. Rather than having a bunch of meetings going on simultaneously in the same convention center in which nobody interacts.”
Notably, the meeting will be held with an in-person component for the first time since 2020—a fact that did not pass by Cohen. “The last couple of years have been difficult for scientific meetings. So, the one thing I'm the most looking forward to is getting together face-to-face with my peers. We were able to have 2 meetings virtually over the last couple of years, but now we'd like to get together in-person,” he told NeurologyLive®.