Friday, June 12, 2015

Second Day at 2015 American Association of Neuropathologists Meeting: Looking Forward

The second day of the annual meeting of the American Association of Neuropathologists looked to the future -- on the scientific, professional, and clinical level. Highlighting the morning session was the annual Parisi Lecture, this year delivered by Bruce Lamb, PhD. Dr. Lamb spoke about the role of innate immunity in the development of Alzheimer Disease (AD). More specifically, Dr. Lamb discussed the special role played by the molecule Triggering Receptor Expressed in Myeloid Cells 2 (TREM2) in the development of the plaques (and dystrophic tau neurites) associated with AD. It appears that the level of this protein on monocyte cell membranes, whether in peripheral blood  or decorating amyloid plaques in brain parenchyma, is positively associated with the development of amyloid plaques in mouse models. Strangely, there is a negative correlation between the level of this protein and the presence of hyperphosphorylated tau protein. So, whether TREM2 turns out to be a serum marker that can be used in the diagnosis of AD or as a target for the treatment of AD remains to be seen. But TREM2 does promise to play an important role in the future understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying the development of AD. On the professional level, Dr. Ann Thor spoke to young physicians about to enter the field at a trainee luncheon in which she spoke about the future of neuropathology. She opined that -- despite predictions of gloom from some corners -- the subspecialist, including the neuropathologist, will be prized in the job market of the future. Dr. Thor's presentation was followed by short discussions by recent graduates of neuropathology fellowships who had landed positions, some with relative ease. The future of clinical practice was addressed in the afternoon with a series of platform presentations on new technologies in the characterization of brain tumors. A sampling of the platform titles which reflect the future of clinical practice included: Use of Stimulated Raman Scattering Microscopy for Quantitative Brain Tumor Imaging and Implementing 450k Methylation Array in Neuropathology: Implications for Diagnosis and Clinical Management. After a long day of looking forward toward the bright future of neuropathology, the Annual Reception was an opportunity for attendees to let their hair down and party into the evening (which, in the case of neuropathologists, of course means finishing up around 8:30 pm!)

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