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The 9th Dubai International Conference for Medical Sciences is inaugurated 15 December 2016
United Arab Emirates, Dubai: December 15, 2016 - Today morning, Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum Award for Medical Sciences has inaugurated the 9th Dubai International Conference for Medical Sciences (9DICMS), on the topic of Gastroenterology with a focus on the Liver, Pancreatic, and Colon diseases. The conference is held at JW Marriott Marquis Hotel, Dubai.
The opening ceremony was attended by Prof. Najib Al Khaja, the Secretary General of the Award, the members of the scientific committees of the award and the conference, in addition to a group of doctors and specialists who will receive 18 CME hours accredited from the United Arab Emirates University.
Yesterday, 12 workshops have been held within the conference, with the participation of a group of senior scientists and specialists in the field of gastroenterology.
For today and tomorrow, the scientific program of the conference includes 14 scientific lectures, with the participation of the winners of the Grand Hamdan Award and the Hamdan Award for Medical Research Excellence.
During the opening ceremony, Prof. Youssuf Abdul Razzaq, the Chairman of the scientific committee of Hamdan Medical Award, delivered the keynote speech of the conference. He said: “This event will give our colleagues in the medical and healthcare profession in this country and in the Arabian Gulf region, the opportunity to gain first-hand knowledge and a comprehensive update on some of the diseases of the gastrointestinal tract. 
“The World Health Organization (WHO) has chosen July 28 as World Hepatitis Day as it is the birthday of Dr Baruch Blumberg, who identified the hepatitis B virus in 1967 and later developed its diagnostic test and vaccine, and for which he received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1976. About two billion people worldwide have been infected with hepatitis B since its discovery and about 600,000 people die every year as a result of the infection”.
“The prevalence of hepatitis B is about two per cent among Emiratis. Hepatitis B virus (HBV) was the first significant hepatotropic virus to be identified in haemodialysis HD centers. HBV infection has been effectively controlled by active vaccination, screening of blood donors, the use of erythropoietin and segregation of HBV carriers”. 
“The introduction in 1990 in the UAE of routine screening of blood donors for HCV contributed significantly to the control of HCV transmission. On the other hand about 150 million people are chronically infected with hepatitis C virus and more than 350,000 people die every year from hepatitis C-related liver diseases”.
“The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region appears to have the highest prevalence of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection worldwide. A few countries in the region are heavily affected by HCV, including Egypt with a prevalence of 14.7% and Pakistan with a prevalence of 4.8%. The HCV prevalence among UAE nationals is 0.24% (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.02–0.63) and among the resident population is 1.64% (95% CI 0.96–2.49). National-level HCV prevalence in the Arabian Gulf region is comparable to global levels”.
“An effective HCV vaccine remains an unsolved challenge; however, pegylation of interferon-alfa has made it possible to treat HCV-positive dialysis patients. Unexplained sporadic outbreaks of hepatitis by the mid-1990s prompted the discovery of hepatitis G virus, hepatitis GB virus C and the TT virus. Major recent advances in the viral diagnosis technology and the development of new oral, direct-acting antiviral agents allow early diagnosis and better therapeutic response”.
“Another exciting development is that new contrast agents have been developed and new laser systems provide deeper penetration up to the submucosal level. Endomicroscopy has expanded from Gastroenterology into different fields of medicine and pediatric endoscopy. Endomicroscopy allows immediate interaction between bench and bed side. Identical endomicroscopic systems can be used for animal and human research, which broadens the understanding of pathophysiology and pathogenesis. Today, endomicroscopy is mainly used to analyse the mucosal architecture in vivo, which leads to targeted biopsies or endoscopic interventions”. 
“Tomorrow, new contrast agents might greatly facilitate the diagnosis of cancerous tissue with clear visualisation of distinct malignant epitopes (molecular imaging). Furthermore, functional imaging will define the need for pharmaceutical intervention in inflammatory Bowel Disease. Endomicroscopy of the submucosal layer allows identifying the enteric nervous system, which might change our understanding of motility disorders. Also the combination of molecular imaging using labelled antibodies and functional imaging is under investigation to identify individuals who might profit from therapy with biologicals. The multitude of studies dealing with endoscope or probe based endomicroscopy has already proven the benefit of endomicroscopy for several diseases”.
“Gastric cancer (GC) constitutes the third most common death-causing cancer worldwide and remains one of the most fatal diseases due to its late diagnosis resulting in limited therapeutic options. Insights into the underlying regulation of gastric stem cells and their counterparts in cancer are crucially needed to improve the outcome of this highly heterogeneous disease. In general, stem cells of the gastrointestinal tract mainly depend on Wnt signaling and aberrant activation of this pathway has been linked to a significant proportion of gastric cancer cases”. 
“In mouse models, experimental Wnt signal deregulation (such as loss of APC function) readily leads to the appearance of adenomas. Likewise, frame shift mutations within the Wnt signaling suppressors APC or Rnf43 as well as activating mutations of β-catenin have been identified as driver mutations in human GCs”. 
“Good science through relevant research and clinical practice is the foundation for effective public health policy, prevention and control. And this is true for any branch of medicine or for any disease which has significant public health importance. As health professionals, we have to get the message across governments, other health service providers and all relevant sectors that cutting edge information cannot deliver its full impact unless these are translated into equitable health outcomes”. 
“Hence, I enjoin all present here in this scientific meeting to consider the facts I have presented to you this evening ... to have that unparalleled commitment to reduce the burden of liver and other gastrointestinal diseases that continue to afflict our people unnecessarily”. 
At the end of his speech, Prof. Youssuf Abdul Razzaq congratulated the leadership of the Sheikh Hamdan Award for Medical Sciences Scientific Committee 2016 for producing a well-balanced program that includes state of the art lectures, and research presentations that will showcase the recent developments as well as the emerging trends in gastroenterology. 
Then, the 9DICMS started with a lecture presented by the winner of the Grand Hamdan International Award, Professor Harvey J Alter, NIH Distinguished Investigator, Transfusion Medicine Department, NIH Clinical Center, USA.
In his lecture entitled “Hepatitis C Virus: from Hippocrates to Cure”, Professor Alter discussed the recent development of direct-acting anti-virals which can now cure greater than 90% of HCV carriers, compared with the old treatment regimen which was an interferon based therapies with at most 50% effectiveness”.
In a lecture entitled “New Mechanisms of intrahepatic cholestasis”, Prof. Richard Thompson, Professor of Molecular Hepatology, and Honorary Consultant Paediatric Hepatologist, King’s College Hospital, UK, discussed the increasing understanding of the molecular mechanisms of cholestasis in the last few years. This has largely come about through the study of children with rare genetic diseases. 
“Our knowledge of such mechanisms gives us insight into the normal physiology and the regulation of homeostasis. Most importantly though it allows us to devise and test treatments that get at the true cause of the disease”, he said.
Prof. Olivier Goulet, from University of Paris-Cite`-Sorbonne, Paris Descartes Medical School, France, delivered a lecture entitled “Short bowel syndrome in pediatrics”, in which he talked about this syndrome as the leading cause of intestinal failure (IF). 
He mentioned that causes of SBS can be congenital or acquired. Accurate estimates of neonatal SBS incidence and mortality are difficult to determine. 
In his lecture entitled “Double-balloon enteroscopy in children”, Prof. Arun Urs, from the Center for Paediatric Gastronenterology, Sheffield Children’s Hospital, UK, discussed the small bowel which has historically been considered as an inaccessible area because of its anatomy, location. The conventional GI endoscopes has its limitations regarding the allowed distance to proceed beyond. 
“Subsequently the advent of Wireless Capsule Endoscopy (WCE) made possible the visualisation of the entire small bowel even in the smaller younger child, but with the dual constraints of lack of histology, and lack of therapeutic capability”, he said. 
Also, the 9DICMS included a lecture presented by Prof. David Tuveson, Deputy Director of the Cold Spring Harbor, Laboratory Cancer Centre, USA, and the winner of the Hamdan International Award for Medical Research excellence in the topic of Pancreatic Diseases.
In his lecture entitled “Organoids to study and stop Pancreatic Cancer”, Professor Tuveson discussed the Pancreatic Cancer which remains the most dangerous of the common malignancies, due the lack of a viable early detection method and the limited activity of most drugs.
“Surgical management of pancreatic neuroendocrine tumours” was a title of a lecture presented by Prof. Kevin Conlon, from Trinity College, Dublin, and the Academic Head of the Department of Surgery Tallaght Hospital, Ireland. In this lecture, he spoke about patients with a suspected IPMN of the pancreas which are being increasingly diagnosed and referred for surgical management. This is in part due to increased awareness coupled with the ubiquitous use of cross-section imaging modalities.  
Also, Prof. Firas Al Kawas, from Sibley Memorial Hospital, USA, presented a lecture entitled “Role of endoscopy in patients with pancreas with cancer”. In this lecture, he spoke about the role of endoscopy in pancreatic cancer is both diagnostic and therapeutic. Endoscopic ultrasound plays an important role in the initial diagnosis and staging of pancreatic cancer. Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography role is predominantly therapeutic/palliative and include stent placement for biliary drainage and gastric outlet obstruction. Endoscopically placed self-expandable metal duodenal stents are effective in the management of MGOO (Malignant Gastric outlet obstruction). 
Prof. Jeremy Wilson, from Liverpool Hospital, University of New South Wales, Liverpool, Australia, delivered a lecture entitled “Alcoholic pancreatitis in the modern era”, in which he spoke about Alcohol as a major association of both acute and chronic pancreatitis.