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Lisbon Bound: Exploring Diagnostic Innovations In Europe

January 17, 2020 | At May’s Diagnostic Innovation Summit in Lisbon, Portugal, key opinion leaders will share the latest tools, clinical applications, and commercial product launches for liquid biopsies, infectious disease, and point-of-care testing. They will address regulatory changes, implementation challenges, and the path forward for diagnostic innovation. 

With four conference programs focused on advanced diagnostics for infectious diseasepoint-of-care diagnostics, and enabling technologies for liquid biopsy in two parts, the event covers a range of diagnostics areas and the latest advances in the space from a distinctly European perspective. 

We’ve been marking our agendas as the program has developed. Here are just a few of the talks we’ve flagged to see on site in Lisbon. –The Editors 

For the Point-of-Care Diagnostics and the Advanced Diagnostics for Infectious Disease programs, Wednesday’s keynote session will dig deep into antimicrobial resistance. Till Bachmann, University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom, will explore both sides of the ARM coin: both rapid AMR detection as well as rapid antimicrobial susceptibility testing. Caroline Purslow, Nesta Challenges United Kingdom, will give updates on the Longitude Prize portfolio and the steps the project and wider community are undertaking to ensure novel point-of-care diagnostics reach the front-line. And Liz Cross, NIHR, United Kingdom, will share a case study of how C-reactive protein (CRP) point-of-care-testing (POCT) has helped high prescribing practices to reduced unscheduled reattendances and supporting GPs to use antibiotics more effectively. 

At the same time on Wednesday, researchers from Germany and Spain will outline what it will take to bring liquid biopsy assays to the clinic. Klaus Pantel, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Germany, will introduce the European Liquid Biopsy Society (ELBS), which was recently established based on the achievements of the EU/IMI sponsored consortium CANCER-ID ( The goal of the organization is to translate liquid biopsy into clinical care. Michael Oellerich, University Medical Center Goettingen (UMG), Germany, will explore donor-derived cell-free DNA testing in organ transplantation, and Joan Anton Puig-Butille, Hospital Clinic of Barcelona, Spain, will explore the clinical significance of detection of BRAFV600E in plasma cfDNA from melanoma patients and from patients without melanoma undergoing regular follow-up of their melanocytic lesions. 

John Hays, Erasmus University Medical Center Rotterdam, The Netherlands, will also deal with antibiotic resistance, identifying some of the current and potential future applications of the “internet of things”—IoT—technologies on the struggle against increasing global antibiotic resistance. Tuesday 

Most diagnostic test manufacturers have focused their attention on distinguishing viral from bacterial infections. Unfortunately, there is very little data to suggest that such tests have a significant impact on antibiotic prescribing. Instead, Sanjay Patel, South Hampton Children’s Hospital, United Kingdom, argues for the development of tests that provide information on which patients will benefit from antibiotics. Tuesday 

The Centre for Personalised Nanomedicine at the University of Queensland is focused on translating nanotechnologies into a clinical setting. The group recently published hundreds of epigenetic regions that are highly informative in cancer, as well as a unique epigenetic marker that appears to be universal for cancer. Matt Trau, University of Queensland, Australia, will present data on the clinical translation of this approach, highlighting some of the positive impacts that such an approach can make as well as several point-of-care nanotechnologies recently developed. Tuesday 

Early detection with molecular methods and artificial intelligence creates new challenges for regulators, standards developers, healthcare, and technology developers. Michael Messenger, University of Leeds, United Kingdom, will present the latest results, methodology, quality assessment, and best practices for such technologies. Tuesday 

Angela Pia Sanzone, National Institute for Biological Standards and Control (NIBSC), Italy, will present the first WHO International Standards for ctDNA, initially for EGFR variants, intended to be maximally commutable, and complementing in parallel-developed genomic DNA standards for direct solid tumor diagnostics, thus facilitating accurate, consistent measurement of cancer biomarkers in liquid biopsy. Tuesday 

An integrated approach to cancer that encompasses combining genomics, transcriptomics, and epigenomics with deep proteomics promises to become a powerful tool for cancer diagnosis, personalized treatment guidance, resistance detection, and recurrence monitoring. Michael Roehrl, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, United States, will discuss several examples using such combined approaches (including gastrointestinal cancers and sarcomas), new technological and specimen-directed advances for correlating circulating and tissue-resident cancer markers, and the computational challenges that arise from multi-omic big data analytics. Wednesday 

Can Dincer, University of Freiburg, Germany, believes nucleic acid testing is decisive for the diagnosis of many diseases in medicine. Besides its wide application in gene editing, CRISPR technology features a powerful tool for the highly sensitive and selective quantification of nucleic acids. Dincer will present the first CRISPR/Cas13a powered electrochemical microfluidic biosensor for on-site miRNA detection. Without any target amplification, it offers a low-cost, easily scalable, and multiplexed approach for nucleic acid diagnostics. Thursday 

Far too many point-of-care test (POCT) developed at universities are never commercialized says Anders Wolff, Technical University of Denmark. For commercialization, it is important to consider the choice of materials, fabrication-, bonding-, and detection methods, etc. These should be suitable for mass production, low cost and easy to use and handle. Wolff will explore assay design, integrated reagents, and more. Thursday 

Maria Dono and Giuseppa De Luca, both with IRCCS Ospedale Policlinico San Martino, Italy, will present the challenges of molecular analysis of liquid biopsy biomarkers, resembled primarily by circulating tumor DNA and cells (CTCs). The pair will discuss data developed by using commercial NGS assays for the study of ctDNA in NSCLC patients and CTCs isolated from breast cancer patients. Thursday