The final program of the 48th ESAO Congress was now published. Organ support and extracorporeal therapies, the importance of organoids for research, and the topic of cardiac support stand out from the broad thematic cross-section.
After 2007, the 48th ESAO Congress, is now being held for the second time in Krems, covering the entire range of topics in organ support and replacement, starting with extracorporeal therapies, extracorporeal life support and artificial organs. The ESAO is located at the University for Continuing Education Krems. Its Vice-Rector for Research and Sustainable Development, Prof Viktoria Weber, Head of the Department of Biomedical Research, is currently President of the ESAO. Three topics are of particular interest:
Extracorporeal blood purification
The congress will focus on scientific progress in the development of blood-compatible biomaterials as one of the main topics. The so-called apheresis (blood purification) is an essential procedure for extracorporeal kidney and liver replacement therapy, and in addition to membranes (dialysis), sorbents that can adsorb and remove certain contaminants from the bloodstream are of interest. Millions of people are in need for extracorporeal therapies. Globally, just over 800 million people suffer from chronic kidney damage, and the number is rising.
There are around 6000 dialysis patients in Austria, with annual costs per patient amounting to 50,000 euros. The development of blood-compatible materials and research on interactions at the interface of blood and biomaterials is not only one of the central topics of the congress, but also a research focus of the Department of Biomedical Research at the University for Continuing Education Krems, which is one of the leading institutions in this field. Professor Claudio Ronco, an intensive care physician from Vicenza and one of the leading experts in the field of extracorporeal therapies, will highlight new developments in the field of adsorption technologies in his plenary lecture on Thursday. On Saturday, the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Health, Prof Stefan Nehrer, will chair a symposium on "Blood Products," a closely related field of research of great clinical relevance.
Medical technology research is attempting to meet the high demand for organs by means of "tissue engineering," among other things. The aim is to grow tissue or entire organs in the laboratory. Despite progress in research, artificially grown organs are still far from clinical use, however, because a number of issues, in particular ensuring adequate formation of blood vessels to supply the organs, are currently unresolved. In contrast, organoids, organ-like microstructures a few millimeters in size that can be artificially produced using cell culture methods, are already being increasingly used in research. They have great potential for researching diseases, developing and testing new drugs, and studying organ development. Often, many issues can even be investigated better with them than in animal experiments. It is less about disruptive breakthroughs and more about continuous innovation. A session on "Tissue Engineering" will be held on Wednesday, and a symposium on "Bioartificial Organs" will be held on Thursday.
Heart health and 60 years of artificial heart research
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the topic of extracorporeal life support (keyword "artificial respiration") and the topic of heart health and artificial hearts, in particular the technological progress that has been achieved here in the past decades, continue to be very topical. In his plenary lecture on Friday, Prof Heinrich Schima, Medical University of Vienna, will review 60 years of research on artificial support of the heart as well as developments in the field of heart transplantation and artificial hearts. Austria can point to a long tradition and top research in this field.