British Transplantation Society Conference 2022 debrief – by Azita Mellati

After a year of virtual meetings and conferences, this year the British Transplantation Society (BTS) congress was again held in person at the ICC Belfast. The conference provided a great opportunity for clinicians and researchers to meet up and share the latest about their research and developments on their projects. Over the 3 days of the conference including 31 sessions, more than 100 talks were presented.

Our team from the Nuffield Department of Surgical Sciences (NDS) actively participated in the conference with a total 3 presentations and 1 poster. Dr Mohamed Elzawahry and Dr Letizia Lo Faro presented their research work on “Safety and feasibility of oxygenated hypothermic machine perfusion in the preservation of donor organs for pancreas transplantation” and “Normothermic machine perfusion of the liver supports protein translation and mitochondrial function while reducing protein degradation and metabolic imbalance: a proteomics study” in the “Dragon’s Den” and “Medawar medal presentations” sessions, respectively. The poster titled “Evaluation of kidney injury after treatment with CC-4066 during cold storage and assessment during normothermic reperfusion in a porcine ischemia reperfusion injury model” by Ms. Pommelien Meertens (as part of her Research Internship at NDS) was presented during the conference as well. I also had the opportunity to present my own research on “Investigation into the effect of Alpha-1 antitrypsin delivered via different preservation methods on ischemia-reperfusion injury in pig kidneys” as part of the “Science oral presentations” session. I received very interesting feedback on my project and had the great fortune to discuss details and plans with the audience and other attendees.

In addition to the scientific part of the conference, we also had the opportunity to enjoy and come together to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the BTS. Over the course of the Gala Dinner themed “the 70s”, members shared good laughter and created wonderful memories. The conference also provided the opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate the lifetime of research work of several members of the BTS, including Professor Peter Friend from within our own department. Overall, this year’s BTS congress was a major success and a great sign that in person, scientific gatherings are back again for the better.

Unlocking QUOD: An Update on Developing Collaborations and Visibility

As you know, QUOD provides a unique bioresource of deceased donor clinical samples for research to improve donor and organ assessment, increase organ utilisation and transplant longevity; thereby saving more patients in need of a transplant.

In addition to biobanking, QUOD has also introduced a wider vision of collaborative research with both scientists and clinicians to accelerate research progress in organ donation and transplantation. So, QUOD has put the foundations to establish a scientific platform to include complementary cross-cutting scientific technologies across all donor organs. This vision includes the application of high-sensitive technologies such as proteomics, transcriptomics, imaging and machine learning applied to pancreas, kidney, liver, heart and lungs. Access to whole organs will also provide new exciting possibilities such as mapping the different cell populations of each organ to create cell atlases to better understand organ physiology.

QUOD is a bioresource open to any researcher with a high-quality scientific proposal. To reach all the researchers who might be interested in receiving QUOD samples we have taken steps to increase the visibility of QUOD. We are building valuable relationships with a number of  UK funding charities; including Kidney Research UK, Diabetes UK, Diabetes Research and Wellness Foundation, The British Heart Foundation, The Cystic Fibrosis Trust and Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Kidney Research UK and Diabetes UK, in particular, have been invaluable partners and we are grateful for their participation in the Steering Committee. Both charities now showcase QUOD on their websites and have invited QUOD presentations to their clinical study groups and relevant research networks.

In 2019, The British Transplantation Society (BTS) has started an initiative to create a nationawide Research Network. The aim is to create a UK multi-disciplinary collaboration between patients, scientists, clinicians and other stakeholders, to optimise organ donation and utilisation, and improve outcomes for transplant patients. As QUOD is a national infrastructure to service research in donation and transplantation, we have offered our support and the option to integrate in the BTS Network hopefully providing a robust pilar for researchers to go to when needed. In addition to individual or collaborative research projects, QUOD is also able to adjust its sampling policies according to new developments in the field of transplantation, e.g. when we started to collect NRP samples upon request, or when clinical trials require this. As the basic infrastructure is already in place, project related additions are feasible if national strategy deems this as important.

To reach all transplant professionals with an interest in research we strive to have a presence at all the major transplantation conferences. Having a booth where researchers and clinicians come and talk to us has proven very popular.  We have enjoyed speaking to delegates and colleagues who make enquires about QUOD samples.  At the British Transplantation Society Congress in Belfast in March, it was great to see so many colleagues who came to talk to us and hear about new developments in QUOD and ongoing research.  It also offered us an opportunity to say thank you in person to so many of you for your valuable support.