Cancer, heart diseases, infections, and cutting-edge antibacterial treatments, as well as the integration of digitalization and artificial intelligence, were among the primary topics of discussion at the MEDICA LABMED FORUM held as part of the MEDICA 2023 trade fair in Düsseldorf. Over recent years, this forum has emerged as a prominent feature of the world’s leading health and medical technology industry trade fair, spanning four days from November 13th to 16th, 2023, within Trade Fair Hall 1. The program, running from 10:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. daily, offered an extensive scientific agenda.
One notable aspect of the MEDICA LABMED FORUM is its commitment to conveying complex topics in a concise and accessible manner, with opportunities for more in-depth discussions in panel sessions.
The program was expertly organized, once again, by Prof. Stefan Holdenrieder and Prof. Georg Hoffmann, representing the German Heart Centre at the Technical University of Munich. During lunch breaks, exhibitors at MEDICA 2023 were provided the chance to introduce their companies through brief presentations.
Day 1: Laboratory Management
The first day of MEDICA focused on two pressing issues generating fervent discussions within the field of laboratory medicine: the potential impact of the “In-Vitro Diagnostics Regulation” (IVDR) on the existence of small IVD companies and specialized labs, and the transformative potential, as well as risks, associated with artificial intelligence (AI). Led by Prof. Astrid Petersmann from the University of Oldenburg, the morning session explored the challenges posed by the new EU directive for diagnostic test quality assurance and strategies to overcome them. In the afternoon, attention turned to the profound changes AI and machine learning are poised to bring to laboratory operations, with particular emphasis on their role in automatically analyzing complex data sets and microscopic images, such as in leukemia diagnosis.
Day 2: Advances in Clinical Diagnostics
On the second day, Prof. Stefan Holdenrieder from the German Heart Centre Munich led discussions on new developments in laboratory medicine, with a focus on oncology and cardiology. Blood tests have gained prominence in diagnosing, prognosticating, and managing various cancer types, thanks to advancements in analyzing circulating tumor cells and nucleic acids. In cardiology, molecular diagnostic tests are enhancing risk assessment for cardiovascular diseases, while genetic examinations gain importance in congenital heart defect cases. Additionally, thromboinflammation was explored as a novel concept for understanding thrombus formation.
Day 3: Perspectives of Young Scientists
The third day of the Forum traditionally spotlights the rising generation of laboratory medicine scientists. PD Dr. Verena Haselmann, a senior physician at the University Hospital Mannheim, invited young colleagues to share their current research, offering insights into the future of the field. The 2023 theme revolved around data sciences, which captivate young minds due to their intelligent analysis of extensive lab data. Topics in the morning spanned AI-backed image analysis, complex lab data analysis, and automated diagnostic findings reporting. In the afternoon, practical applications in hospitals, clinics, and the diagnostics industry were explored.
Day 4: Innovation from an Industry Perspective
The final day of the MEDICA LABMED FORUM commenced with an overview of diagnostic solutions accelerating pathogen identification, enabling early and effective therapeutic interventions. Attention was given to managing septicemia through rapid pathogen identification and targeted antibiotic use. Innovative approaches to counter antibiotic resistance, from small molecules to phage therapy, were discussed. The event concluded with a glimpse into “Next Generation Sequencing” (NGS) and bioinformatics, with a focus on characterizing the microbiomes of newborns, a vulnerable patient group.
A longstanding tradition at MEDICA is the presentation of future trends by the diagnostics and life science industry. This year, Dr. Peter Quick, a board member of the Diagnostics Industry Association (VDGH), and his colleague, Dr. Jan Gorka, both highlighted infectious diseases as a critical focus for 2023. Dr. Quick emphasized that bacterial resistance to antibiotics is a growing health crisis, which, in some health systems, has become the new normal and threatens the lives of thousands.