2nd LAM Symposium

Hotel du Vin, Auckland
2-4 May 2004
by Jen Shieff, LAM Trustee

Surrounded by autumnal grapevines, the Hotel du Vin in its peaceful setting south of Auckland was an ideal venue for the second New Zealand/Australian LAM Symposium. Organised by LAM Trust Director Bronwyn Gray and Medical and Scientific Advisory Committee Member Professor Merv Merrilees, the Symposium was attended by 50 people, from four countries, representing universities, laboratories, research centres and hospitals, the LAM Trust supporter Merck Sharp & Dohme and of course several NZ LAM Trustees, myself included.

The ASB Bank Visiting Professor Thomas Colby from the Mayo Clinic Scottsdale, Arizona, was the keynote speaker. Prof Colby, a world renowned pathologist gave us an overview of all the disciplines represented. Dr Jilly Evans, a scientist with Merck USA, talked about activating pathways resulting in increased cell migration and proliferation. And she also had challenging questions to ask of almost every speaker, searching for pathways and linkages through the various contributions.

If there was one topic that came up more than any other at this Symposium it was cell migration. This was followed closely by what’s happening in the extra cellular matrix. Everyone acknowledged the speed at which thinking about LAM is moving and the developments that have happened even since the Cincinnati Lam Meeting which was only a few weeks ago.

The most exciting event over the past two years has been the discovery that rapamycin may actually be able to be used to slow the speed of abnormal smooth muscle cell proliferation in LAM and Tuberous Sclerosis patients. Plans will be made soon to design a rapamycin study for Australasian LAM patients.

The hope associated with this development is remarkable. And Dr Hetty Rodenburg captured the spirit of hope in her moving presentation reminding all clinicians and caregivers to never extinguish hope in the ones they care for.

I will continue to take a fascinated bystander’s interest in the efforts of the medical and scientific experts who have come together with such passion,generosity and enthusiasm to find a cure for LAM. They are focusing on the mysteries and proudly taking part in the fast unfolding story of this tragic disease.