A Research Scientist Goes to AAAAI

By Shonna Snyder

A few weeks ago, several members of “Team TMS”, including me, traveled to the American Academy of Asthma, Allergy, and Immunology meeting  in Washington, D.C.  For me, the conference started on Thursday night, February 22nd, by picking up a poster from FedEx that we needed for the booth.  I helped operate our booth when I was not in scientific sessions listening to leaders in the MCD field discuss their research.  TMS had an awesome booth that many conference participants visited. 

As TMS’ research scientist, I was primarily there to learn all the latest information and research coming from the allergy and immunology community. I attended many session presentations made by leaders in the field of mast cell diseases, including many that were lead by members of  TMS’ Medical Advisory Board. Here are some of the takeaways from  a few of the sessions I attended:

  • I attended Dr. Giannetti’s Case Study session about a person with MCD who had been stung where he stated that mast cells release tryptase either constitutively (occurs all the time) or through degranulation (mast cell activation).  He also noted a study by Lyons et al. (2022) that reported that tryptase is elevated in only 5-7% of the US population and of those with elevations, 91% have hereditary alpha tryptasemia (HaT). If one has HaT, they are at a greater risk for anaphylaxis and those with systemic mastocytosis (SM) are also more likely to have anaphylaxis.
  • I also attended several sessions discussing itch and new research that is being conducted around neuroimmunology pathways.  This research is important because it expounds on the concept of how our brain (nervous system) may play a larger role in our immune system, and thus our mast cells and allergy.
  • Dr. Lyons and Dr. Pace gave interesting presentations about how mast cells and nerve interactions contribute to lifelong hypersensitivity disorders.
  •  Dr. Akin moderated a session on mast cell disorders from bench to bedside. 
  • There was a fascinating session about a child with a lacrimal gland mastocytoma. This is not something we come across very often and it was interesting to hear the physician discuss the journey of diagnosing and treating this rare tumor
  • Finally, I was able to attend several treatment specific sessions where Cogent, Blueprint Medicines, and Novartis, and other biopharma companies discussed their treatment options and the research they are conducting in the mast cell disease space.

Our team also attended the AAAAI Mast Cell Disorders Committee Meeting.  This year’s meeting was very large. It was exciting to see so many physicians taking an interest in mast cell diseases. Our Executive Director, Jessica, and our TMS Board Chair, Judy, were able to speak on behalf of our organization and you, the patient, to provide updates and discuss ways we can all collaborate to improve outcomes for patients.

I enjoyed my time at the conference and was able to network with many MCD doctors, several of whom are on the TMS Medical Advisory Board. It was great to be able to speak to our specialists directly  about  issues that are facing our community. I learned a lot and made a lot of connections that I will use in the upcoming months to further the mission of TMS, which is to help patients with diagnoses and treatments as well as improve quality of life.

It was an honor to be able represent you at this conference.

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