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S3-E4.1 – NASH-TAG 2022 Wrap-Up: High Impact Presentations

First-timers Amy Articolo (Novo Nordisk), Erin Quirk (Terns Pharmaceuticals), and Rachel Zayas (AGED Diagnostics) join the Surfers and guest KOL Ian Rowe to identify the highest impact presentations and messages of NASH-TAG 2022.

Last weekend’s NASH-TAG 2022 was the best-attended event in the conference’s six-year history, and probably the one that will have the greatest long-term impact on diagnosis, treatment, and monitoring of Fatty Liver patients. In this wrap-up conversation, our seven-person panel (including two Pharma execs and one diagnostics entrepreneur) identifies what each participant considered the high-impact presentations of the conference.

This conversation is triggered by Roger Green’s question, “What was the one thing about NASH-TAG that most surprised you.” All group members mentioned the incredible passion and energy that fueled the meeting, but there were other, more specific mentions as well. Rachel Zayas mentioned a study presented at the meeting in which nine pathologists reviewed 80,000 cells looking for balloon hepatocytes. 1,138 of these cells (~1.5%) were identified by at least one pathologist as having a balloon hepatocyte, but only ONE (!) of these was identified by all nine. Clearly, this raises questions about whether the balloon hepatocyte is a robust enough metric to play such a pivotal role in steatosis scoring. Erin Quirk commented on a point Michael Charlton made during his presentation, that we neither control nor know enough about the dietary habits of respondents, even though a disparity between cells has the potential to confound results. From there, the group switched to discuss high-impact papers and concepts ranging from single-cell transcriptomics to consider collagen control as a balance between reducing fibrosis and leaving sufficient collagen for hepatic self-repair. Toward the end of this discussion, two more ideas gained traction: Michael Charlton’s focus on how to develop the optimal combination therapy and Erin Quirk’s general observation on how gratifying it was to see big and small pharma working together.

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