Options for the Control of Influenza VI Conference summary
Article first published online: 22 OCT 2007
Influenza and Other Respiratory Viruses
Volume 1, Issue 3, pages 85–86, May 2007
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How to Cite
Katz, J., Turski, T. and Moen, A. (2007), Options for the Control of Influenza VI Conference summary. Influenza and Other Respiratory Viruses, 1: 85–86. doi: 10.1111/j.1750-2659.2007.00026.x
- Issue published online: 22 OCT 2007
- Article first published online: 22 OCT 2007
In June 2007, Toronto, ON, Canada was the site of the Options for the Control of Influenza VI Conference, an international scientific forum exclusively devoted to influenza. Since its inception in 1985, the Options series of meetings, held every 3–4 years, have continued to grow in scope and size. The Options VI Conference was the largest in the series to date, with 1600 delegates from over 66 countries in attendance. While half of the delegates came from North America, just over 40% were from Europe and Asia, with the remaining delegates coming from South America, Oceania, the Middle East and Africa. This record attendance reflects the expanded interest in influenza, in part because of the continuing circulation of highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses, and ongoing pandemic preparedness efforts. Dr David Heymann, Assistant Director-General of the World Health Organization, Communicable Diseases, opened the Conference with a keynote address that focused on the newly revised International Health Regulations that have been updated to ensure that any international public health concerns are rapidly detected and managed in today’s highly mobile and interconnected world. The welcome reception on Sunday evening was held in the main ball room of the historic Fairmont Royal York Hotel. Guests were greeted with welcome addresses from Canadian Health Officials and dined on epicurean delights prepared by the Fairmont’s world-renowned chefs.
The Scientific program included 30 invited international experts in public health and basic research who presented their state-of-the-art knowledge on influenza. A new feature of the Options meetings was the morning Translational Sessions designed to provide meeting participants with a broad understanding of concepts and issues in public health, the latest advances in basic or clinical research, and their application for the control and prevention of influenza. Topics included communicating science to the public, molecular targets for antiviral drugs, immunity and pandemic vaccines, effective use of mathematical models in influenza research and pandemic preparedness, and clinical and pathologic findings and treatment options for human H5N1 virus infections. Translational Sessions were followed by Plenary Sessions, showcasing recent advances in epidemiology or basic research in a specific field of interest. Plenary Session topics included discussions on the international challenges for pandemic preparedness and response in both developed and developing nations, virus structure, replication and receptor-binding, the control of influenza in animals, and interactions of the virus and the host including the molecular basis of virulence and transmissibility. Translational and Plenary Session presentations can be viewed until June, 2008 at http://www.controlinfluenza.com/.
The core information of the meeting was delivered through over 600 abstracts submitted to 14 workshop categories, presented in either oral or poster form that encompassed every aspect of influenza surveillance, epidemiology and research. Afternoon workshops ran in parallel with public health and basic/applied science tracks. Public health track topics included disease surveillance, developments in diagnostics and serological techniques, clinical vaccine evaluation, antivirals and resistance, and clinical guidance and policies. Two new public health track topics covered in the expanded Options VI workshop sessions were included to reflect the ongoing outbreak and pre-pandemic responses to avian influenza worldwide, and growing interest in the use of mathematical modeling to predict virus evolution and spread or guide control efforts. Basic/applied science track topics included structure/function and receptor-binding, replication and assembly, animal influenza ecology, genetic and antigenic evolution, innate and adaptive immunity, virus–host interactions and pathogenesis, and preclinical vaccines and other intervention strategies. A book of the Options VI proceedings will be available in January 2008. Complementing the information provided by invited speakers and abstract presenters in the Options VI scientific program were the daily morning satellite symposia sponsored by industry and presenting the latest information on control measures for seasonal and pandemic influenza.
Some of the information highlights provided by the meeting included the prevalence of influenza antiviral drug resistant viruses in different countries, the evaluation of new vaccine methodologies including novel adjuvants, particularly for pandemic vaccines, the expansion of global surveillance and pandemic preparedness efforts, advances in understanding of receptor-binding of human and avian influenza viruses and their role in influenza virulence and transmissibility, and the role of the PB1-F2 protein, discovered by Jonathan Yewdell and colleagues in 2001, in influenza virus pathogenesis.
While the focus of Options VI was the science of influenza, conference participants were able to enjoy a variety of social and cultural offerings courtesy of their Canadian hosts. Monday and Tuesday evening cocktail sessions offered a casual forum to highlight approximately 500 posters which covered the 14 workshop topics. On Wednesday afternoon, midway through the conference, participants sojourned to the natural and awesome beauty of Niagara Falls, where they enjoyed the magnificence of the waterfalls and surrounding municipal area. A Canadian barbeque was the theme for the final social event, providing attendees the opportunity to wind down after the intense week of in-depth scientific sessions as they feasted on seared meats and a myriad of tempting side dishes. These social activities, juxtaposed against the comprehensive Options VI scientific program provided a balanced and enriching experience for meeting participants.
ISIRV is now the official ‘home’ of the Options for the Control of Influenza Conference Series, and will play a major role in the development of the Options VII Conference scheduled for 2010.