The ACR Convergence 2021 Basic Science program reflects the rapidly and constantly advancing field of rheumatology with a comprehensive educational program covering the newest and most important developments in basic science today that will change clinical practice tomorrow.
“In planning this year’s Basic Science sessions, like in other years, we really focused on the exciting state-of-the-art immunology discoveries that our attendees want to hear about and are ones that are going to, in the future, have some likelihood to impact clinical care and new treatment approaches,” said Basic Science Chair Jennifer H. Anolik, MD, PhD, Professor of Medicine in the Division of Allergy/Immunology and Rheumatology, University of Rochester Medical Center.
Always a popular part of the Basic Science program at the annual meeting, Dr. Anolik said this year’s program includes three Immunology Update sessions—Sequential Steps to Intercept RA on Saturday, Nov. 6; New Strategies to Target Complement Pathways on Sunday, Nov. 7; and Immune Responses in the Elderly on Monday, Nov. 8.
“These sessions reflect critical themes and our evolving understanding of immune responses and are intended to bring the basic science and state of the art to the practicing provider in an informative and understandable way,” Dr. Anolik said.
The program also includes cutting-edge sessions covering the latest discoveries in cell populations that participate in the autoimmune rheumatic diseases and new cell subsets that are of interest, including New Dimensions in Cellular Immunology on Tuesday, Nov. 9.
“There will be three state-of-the-art talks in this session, each one highlighting a different cell where there is some exciting new information about how the populations might participate in disease and could potentially be targets for the future,” Dr. Anolik said. “In addition to this, we have two special sessions highlighting the newest insights coming from the Accelerating Medicines Partnership (AMP)—one covering RA on Saturday, Nov. 6, and then one on SLE on Sunday, Nov. 7.”
One of the shared themes in both AMP sessions, Dr. Anolik said, is how the cells of the adaptive immune response may interact with stromal or resident cells in target tissue.
“In both of these sessions, there will be talk about how, using high-dimensional single cell analytics, we understand the heterogeneity of cell populations and pathways across the immune system and how those cells interact and talk to each other,” she said. “There’s a lot of excitement about that crosstalk and how high-dimensional single cell analytic approaches are transforming the way we think about autoimmune rheumatic diseases and are hopefully laying a foundation for new precision medicine approaches as well.”
Finally, she said, COVID-19 is obviously a major topic again this year. As the pandemic continues and emerging variants pose new public health threats around the world, Dr. Anolik said there are a variety of ACR Convergence 2021 sessions focused on the ongoing impact of the pandemic on both patients with rheumatic diseases and the rheumatology professionals who treat them.
“We’ve learned a lot over the past year about the basic immunology of COVID and how it has impacted autoimmune rheumatic diseases,” Dr. Anolik said.
While most of the COVID-19 sessions focus on the clinical aspects of the virus, Dr. Anolik said an important basic science session, Host Factors in COVID-19: Genetics, Immune Profiles & Autoantibodies, on Sunday, Nov. 7, will explore how genetic predisposition might impact clinical outcomes in COVID, how we might understand the development of autoantibodies during severe infection, and how immune profiling may help to understand who might be at risk for severe complications.
Thursday-Friday, November 4-5
The 2021 ACR Basic and Clinical Research Conference will provide a combined approach to presenting clinical and basic research topics as they relate to emerging viral infections, especially SARS-CoV-2. Faculty will explain how emerging clinical patterns of COVID-19 infection and its rheumatologic complications will help define new priorities in basic research, discuss how disease pathophysiology will likely guide clinical decision making, and describe the role of the rheumatologist during a pandemic in the care of infected individuals worldwide.
Saturday, November 6
In Phase 2 of the Accelerating Medicines Partnership (AMP) study of Rheumatoid Arthritis, more than 100 patients provided clinical data, including patient characteristics, disease activity measures, joint ultrasound data, and samples of histologically characterized synovial tissue biopsies, peripheral blood cells and serum. Faculty will present findings from an integrated analysis of these data, including stratification by treatment history (treatment naïve, methotrexate and TNFi exposed).
Sunday, November 7
Host Factors in COVID-19: Genetics, Immune Profiles & Autoantibodies
3:15 – 4:15 p.m. ET
Faculty will discuss the immunologic characteristics of MIS-C and describe differences between the immunologic profiles/signatures of MIS-C and other forms of hyperinflammation, describe the role of the IFN pathway in host response to COVID-19, and review genetic factors that predispose individuals to severe disease course in COVID-19.
Accelerating Medicines Partnership–SLE: Phase 2 Results
9:30 – 10:30 a.m. ET
To improve our understanding of the pathogenesis and heterogeneity of lupus nephritis, the Accelerating Medicines Partnership has collected clinical data and biospecimens from 160 patients with lupus nephritis who were followed for renal outcomes over a 12-month period. Faculty will present data from single-cell RNA sequencing of renal biopsies from these patients together with a detailed phenotypic analysis of peripheral blood cell subsets.
Monday, November 8
Fueling Autoimmunity: Metabolic Regulation of Immune Function
3:30 – 4:30 p.m. ET
Faculty experts will describe the role of key metabolic pathways in directing immune responses in major immune cell subsets, discuss the special role of mitochondria as drivers of the immune response and the role of inflammation in altering mitochondrial function, and review how metabolites released from microbiota can regulate immune responses at distant sites.
Tuesday, November 9
New Dimensions in Cellular Immunology
9 – 10 a.m. ET
Faculty will discuss the role of T peripheral helper cells in providing B-cell help, describe how the integration of high dimensional platforms facilitate the discovery of macrophage and dendritic cell populations, and summarize the molecular regulation of NK cell activation and function.
Expanding Role of Microbiome in Rheumatic Diseases
4 – 5 p.m. ET
Faculty will describe the role of the microbiota in the control of host immunity and the role of immunity to the microbiota in the etiology of inflammatory disorders, review potential host and microbiome pathways involved in methotrexate metabolism and how interactions with gut microbiota can affect methotrexate clinical responses, appraise the current data on intestinal and skin dysbiosis and their downstream immune effects in psoriatic disease, and discuss microbiome-based interventions and the emerging field of pharmacomicrobiomics.
REGISTER TODAY FOR ACR CONVERGENCE
If you haven’t registered for ACR Convergence 2021, register today to access all of the valuable content during the meeting, November 3–10. Registration also includes on-demand access to the virtual platform (session recordings, Poster Hall, Community Hubs, and ShowRheum) until March 11, 2022.