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.