Huge talent at APLAR-ARA Congress

With a program boasting 110 invited speakers from most major Asian countries, Europe and North America, the 21st Asia Pacific League of Associations for Rheumatology (APLAR) Congress in conjunction with the ARA Annual Scientific Meeting has something for everyone.

The program runs from 8-11 April at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Congress Chair Professor Matt Brown told the limbic the event will also be the first major rheumatology congress with gender equality in the speakers and session chairs.

“We have made a huge effort to achieve that and in fact there will be a slightly more women than men but that is appropriate because there are actually more women trainees than men.”

Professor Brown said the exciting program covered clinical and translational rheumatology across paediatric rheumatology, wet rheumatology, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis and more.

While there will be some sessions dedicated to disease in Asian populations, the program was relevant to all of the expected 1500 delegates.

“I think something like 15-20% of Australians were born in Asia or their parents were born in Asia so it’s relevant to a large group of their patients and in any case a lot of the talks would be of broad interest no matter what part of the world you are in.”

He said lupus and different forms of vasculitis were more common and more severe in Asia, while crystal arthritis like gout was extremely common South Pacific Islander populations.

A plenary session on SLE will feature Japan’s Yoshiau Tanaka on novel agents (Thurs, 8.30am) and Monash University’s Eric Morand on novel biomarkers (Thurs, 9.15am).

The Walter & Eliza Hall Institute’s Seth Masters, a world expert in genomic and functional dissection of pyrinopathies such as familial Mediterranean fever also features on the program (Wed, 12.35pm).

“These are of increasing interest because the genes that are mutated in these diseases are now turning out to be important in lots of other diseases e.g. crystal arthritis and ankylosing spondyloarthritis,” Professor Brown said.

“So there are significant differences between one part of the world and another and also differences just in the availability of specialist healthcare and specialist medications, so management is often quite different.”

He said other diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA) were very similar between Asian and Western countries.

Early plenary sessions on early intervention in RA (Tues, 8.30am) and precision medicine in RA (Tues, 9.15am) feature UK experts John Isaacs and Anne Barton.

Other plenaries with UK speakers include the costs and benefits of early treatment in AS (Wed, 8.30am) and transitional care for patients with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (Wed, 9.15am).

The program also includes sessions supported by EULAR and the American College of Rheumatology (ACR).

The EULAR symposium features University of Glasgow’s Iain McInnes on future treatment of RA and Annamaria Iagnocco (Turin University) on imaging in RA. (Wed, 4.15pm).

The ACR symposium will feature Peter Lipsky (University of Texas) on big data and novel drug development in SLE and Michael Brenner (Harvard) on the role of stromal cells in rheumatoid arthritis (Tues, 4.15pm).

New items on the program for both ARA and APLAR are the Year in Review and Year in Preview sessions for both translational science and clinical medicine (Thurs, 10.30am).

“And the end of the meeting, something which is traditional for ARA but which APLAR hasn’t experienced before is a Clinical Grand Rounds which are very unusual cases, usually presented humorously and discussed with active audience participation.” (Thurs, 2pm)

A fun run (Tues, 6.15am) and the Gala Dinner (Wed, 7.30am) are part of the social program.

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