The year 2020 marked the spread of a global pandemic that took the world by surprise and halted life as we knew it. It also emphasized the dangers posed by air-borne pathogens and their potential to cause massive havoc. For a respiratory toxicologist, these were interesting times! Scientific breakthrough in the form of a vaccine or therapy was the need of the hour while researchers working in respiratory/ infection biology took center stage.
Though times were challenging, they paved way for interesting and innovative research, and the SOT 60th Annual Meeting and ToxExpo featured some of the best research in toxicology from across the globe this year. Being an inhalation toxicologist myself, I was particularly interested in the new advances made in the field, which encouraged me to attend the Respiratory Toxicology Poster Session on March 23.
The Poster Session featured 24 posters from presenters from and outside the US and touched upon a wide array of topics in the field of respiratory toxicology. There was equal representation from academia, industry, and government, with many posters presenting research being conducted and funded by the US Environmental Protection Agency. I was very happy to be able to view the research conducted internationally by my peers, as work from other countries, including the UK, Korea, Switzerland, Germany, and Belgium, was being presented during the Poster Session.
The breadth of topics covered during this Poster Session was impressive. While there were posters studying the molecular mechanisms and therapeutic interventions for pulmonary pathologies like asthma, pulmonary fibrosis, silicosis, and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), there also was research looking at the health risks associated with exposure to allergens/toxicants like organic/inorganic dust, b-glucans, secondary organic aerosols, and more as well. The primary focus, in general, was on technology advancement and better ways of studying respiratory toxicity and risk assessment.
Development of better models to mimic pulmonary pathologies has always been a challenge. In this respect, the posters featured work showing the effectiveness of using air-liquid interface, 3D lung, and lung-on-chip-based models in pulmonary research. These posters were informational and helped compare various model systems while connecting with the presenters virtually with the help of the Chat feature made available on the Virtual Meeting Platform.
Personally, I was much intrigued by the use of 3D printer technology for the inhalation exposure to acrylonitrile butadiene styrene filament in Sprague-Dawley rats presented by Dr. Farcas from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health in collaboration with West Virginia University. As explained in the Chat feature for this poster, the advantage of such an exposure is thus: “First, the animals are exposed to emissions generated during real-time 3D printing, thus avoiding the ‘aging’ effects of a test material. Second, the emissions contain the mixture of both particulate and VOC, that is characteristics to emissions generated during 3D printing.” Designing good exposure systems has always been a personal interest, and this poster was quite innovative in that respect.
Overall, I enjoyed spending the 1.5 hours virtually on the SOT Virtual Meeting Platform, navigating through various posters and interacting with the presenters. In my opinion, uploading prerecorded poster presentations and making the posters available for the attendees for a longer duration has greatly helped the success of these Poster Sessions. During the duration of the actual presentation, presenters were asked to be virtually available to answer questions posed by the audience members. Each of the presenters was prompt in their response, which made the poster viewing experience quite interactive. For those interested, all the posters are still available for viewing until May 2021.
This blog was prepared by an SOT Reporter and represents the views of the author. SOT Reporters are SOT members who volunteer to write about sessions and events in which they participate during the SOT Annual Meeting and ToxExpo. SOT does not propose or endorse any position by posting this article. If you are interested in participating in the SOT Reporter program in the future, please email Giuliana Macaluso.
Sessions delivered during the 2021 SOT Annual Meeting and ToxExpo will be available on the Virtual Meeting Platform on demand to registrants through May 31, 2021.#SOTReporter#2021AnnualMeeting#Communique:AnnualMeeting#Communique:ScienceNews