The International Symposium has come to a close here in Sydney, Australia. Some of you have asked about the value of these meetings, and I think this is a good question. There is a very straightforward answer: Clinical and scientific researchers as well as people living with the disease and their caregivers from around the globe attend this event. This year alone, more than 800 people attended the symposium, which allows those from the ALS community to have the opportunity to meet one another and talk personally about the efforts that are taking place worldwide to find treatments and a cure for this disease.
Two noted ALS researchers, Bryan Traynor, M.D. of the National Institute of Aging and Dr. Robert Bowser Ph.D. of University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine Department of Pathology, discuss topics that they have found of interest at this conference in these two videos: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DIf_XvUwjeY and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gjMlAPT7Ak0.
In the case of the scientists, they remain quite busy with their own projects. It would be impossible for one person to keep up with all of the fantastic research that is taking place globally. This symposium gives researchers the opportunity to hear what others are doing in the laboratory; such interactions often lead to enhanced partnerships and projects among different institutions and labs. Some of this year’s presentations in Sydney serve as wonderful examples of shared information and resources that have resulted in extremely important discoveries—not the least of which was the recent discovery about Chromosome 9.
The abstracts and posters at the conference covered everything from non-invasive ventilation to nutrition and research on the mouse models. Other activities included talks on familial ALS as well as sporadic ALS and the pathways that might be a key to the disease. In short, these meetings bring the best of the best in ALS research and care together to discuss pertinent topics and learn from one another. Their passion is obvious, and their dedication extreme. In summary, these scientists and clinicians give us hope that there WILL be a treatment for ALS as we move ever closer to new discoveries.