eCM 2015

The sixteenth eCM Conference, the second of which dedicated to Bone and Implant Infection, was held at the Congress Center Davos, Switzerland from June 24-26, 2015.

10 August 2015

Prof. Ashley Blom brings in the arthroplasty perspective.

eCMXVI, was organized by Dr Fintan Moriarty, Dr Martin Stoddart and Prof. Geoff Richards from the AO Research Institute Davos (ARI).

eCM XVI Scientific Lectures
The scientific program involved keynote speakers presenting on both the clinical problems encountered, and the latest findings in clinical and pre-clinical research as well as developments in materials science, microbiology and host response to infection. The opening session set the tone for the conference with keynotes on the clinical problem of bone and implant infection from the perspective of the trauma surgeon by Prof. Michael Schütz, Brisbane (AU) and the orthopedic surgeon, specifically prosthetic joint infection, by Prof Ashley Blom, Bristol (UK).

The focus of the second session was anti-infective biomaterials development and testing. The session was hosted by congress partners Ipromedai, an EU-wide consortium focused on developing materials science-based solutions to this clinical problem ( Volker Alt MD opened the session with an important overview of the value of preclinical testing of anti-infective solutions, and this was followed by a visually impressive presentation by Annette Moter MD on the value of fluorescent in-situ hybridization for culture negative bacterial infection. In the first of the evening keynotes, Michael Otto PhD described the unique features of staphylococcal adaptation to synovial fluid, which is not observed in other anatomic locations, and Bettina Loeffler MD followed this with an in-depth description of the virulence factors involved in bacterial persistence in chronic infection, particularly the formation of small colony variants (SCVs). Day one ended with a poster session and apero allowing discussion in the more than 40 accepted posters.

On day two, the focus shifted to immune response to infection and Cezmi Akdis MD, of the Swiss Institute of Asthma and Allergy Research in Davos (SIAF), presented on the tissue factors that contribute to immune tolerance, with a focus on the factors that regulate epithelial barrier functioning. Willem van Wamel PhD presented a detailed dissection of the humoral response to staphylococcal infection, both in sepsis and in osteomyelitis. Richard Proctor PhD presented an overview of the challenges in developing effective vaccines against Staphylococcus aureus, and how progress is hampered by our incomplete understanding of protective immunity towards this pathogen. Edward Schwarz PhD followed on with a description of his work aimed at providing an understanding of the osteo-immunology of S. aureus bone infection, and how passive immunization with anti-glucosaminidase antibodies has shown efficacy in preclinical studies.

On the final day, the host response theme continued with a presentation on antibacterial and antibiofilm peptides by Sebastian Zaat PhD, which have shown promise in early preclinical testing. Edward Greenfield PhD then presented data describing the mechanisms involved in bacterial impairment of osseointegration, with a focus upon staphylococci and Acinetobacter. A session dedicated to Trauma was next and Sven Hungerer MD gave an overview of the challenges posed by infection after trauma and the options for reconstruction secondary to infection. Josh Wenke PhD then gave an overview of his translational research on the practical issues faced in high-risk combat wounds, including studies on timing of antibiotic prophylaxis, pulsed lavage and debridement.

Clinical Significance
In addition to the opening session, the final session was similarly dedicated to the clinical reality of bacterial infection, but with a focus on the knowledge gained in recent years and the challenges still faced today. Pierre Hoffmeyer MD gave an extensive overview of the clinical studies that have helped clinicians reduce infection rate of the previous decades. Elliott Gruskin, then gave his professional experiences of developing an antimicrobial coated implant that was the first to be translated into clinical use, including the challenging process of regulatory approval. Finally, Werner Zimmerli MD gave the closing keynote of the meeting where he highlighted the key advances in antibiotic selection as it pertains to implant infection. Prof. Zimmerli's work serves as the cornerstone of modern medical treatment of bone infection and was a very worthy closing keynote for eCMXVI.

Prize winners

Student prize for best oral presentation went to Nicola Kavanagh (left) and Payal Balraadjsing (center) as joint first-place winners. First prize in the poster category was awarded to Paul Taylor (Right). Prizes were presented by Richard Proctor and were sponsored by Robert Mathys Foundation. 

Work of excellent quality was presented by a respectable number of students who competed for the popular Robert Mathys student prizes. In the end, the prize for the best oral presentation was awarded jointly to Nicola Kavanagh for her talk "Staphylococcus aureus infection causes hyper mineralisation by osteoblasts in a 3D extra-cellular matrix environment"; and Payal Balraadjsing for her presentation entitled "Dendritic cell induced T-cell responses to biomaterials in presence of staphylococcal infection". The judges for the oral prize were Reto Lugenbuehl PhD from RMS and keynote speaker Josh Wenke PhD. First prize in the poster category was awarded to Paul Taylor for his poster "Dip and dry’ micropattern-capable bioactive coatings for biomaterial surface modification in treating implant related infection and inflammation". The judges for the poster prier were keynote speaker Bettina Loeffler Md and speaker Llinos Harris PhD.

The Social Side of eCM
eCM conference also offered two free afternoons for networking and exploring the surroundings. As with every year the conference dinner was well attended and was the ideal opportunity to thank the hard "behind the scenes" workers from the dedicated administrative team of Sonia Wahl, Carla Escher and Claudia Barblan. A group of eCM participants joined the conference social walk which brought them to the lake of Davos and a group also made the walk to the conference dinner on Jakobshorn mountain via the Clavadeleralp. Participants visibly appreciated the combination of gentle exercise, discussing science, and observing both nature and pioneering architecture.

Next year's conference is eCM XVII: Bone Regeneration & Stem Cells will take place in June 2016. Keep an eye on the eCM website for updates.  We hope to see you there.

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