Report from SAPH2024

Report from SAPH2024

The Saudi Association for Pulmonary Hypertension (SAPH) hosted its 17th annual conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, from February 15 to 17, 2024. The conference featured an impressive scientific program with sessions led by numerous leading PH specialists from around the world.

Saudi Association for Pulmonary Hypertension

The organizers emphasized that the conference marked another successful collaboration between SAPH and the Pulmonary Vascular Research Institute (PVRI). This collaboration aims to introduce physicians in the Middle East and North Africa to world experts in Pulmonary Hypertension and the latest developments in understanding and managing the condition.

A notable addition this year was the invitation extended to representatives from patient associations. Hall Skaara from PHA Europe delivered a presentation on the association’s work and introduced the newly opened Bel Air Center. Additionally, Matt Granato from PHA discussed the initiatives of the American association.

Prior to the conference, foreign speakers were invited to tour the King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre. Led by Prof. Abdullah M. Aldalaan (President, Saudi Association for Pulmonary Hypertension (SAPH), and Director, Pulmonary Hypertension Program, Lung Health Center at King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre), along with Mr. Hassan S. Alorainy, the tour showcased the impressive facilities, including the national PH center. Attendees also visited the hospital’s research center, where activities such as genome sequencing to detect gene mutations in PH patients were highlighted.

Saudi Association for Pulmonary Hypertension

The three-day conference commenced with keynote sessions covering precision medicine in PH by Prof. Fowzan Alkuraya, a Saudi Arabian Scientist and Harvard Professor and a review of PH developments in 2023 by Professor Sean Gaine from Ireland. Professor Gaine highlighted positive news, such as the promising effects of the phase three trial of Sotartecept, a new pathway drug. However, he also discussed setbacks, including disappointing results from some hopeful trials.

The following day, session two delved deeper into Sotartecept, with Professor Paul B. Yu from the USA providing insights into the research behind its discovery, and Professor Marius M. Heoper presenting the Sotartecept STELLAR study. Professor Ioana Preston discussed the long-term follow-up study of Sotartecept, offering hope to the PH patient community with its promising results.

Subsequent sessions delved into another promising drug, Seralutinib. Professor Luke Howard discussed findings from the TORREY trial, while Professor Ardeschir Ghofrani demonstrated how new imaging technology highlighted an increase in lung vessels among PH patients inhaling this compound.

Saudi Association for Pulmonary Hypertension

The conference also dedicated a session to Group III PH, focusing on patients with PH-ILD. Recent attention has shifted to this patient group due to the lack of available therapies. However, a new inhaled prostacyclin has been approved in the USA by the FDA following a positive US lead trial. Despite this, it has yet to receive approval outside the US, with the EMA remaining unconvinced by the trial’s results. A spirited debate ensued between Professor Steven Nathan from the US and Professor Olivier Sitbon from France regarding the drug’s efficacy, highlighting ongoing discussions within the scientific community. Nevertheless, both sides agreed on the urgent need for effective PH medication for the PH-ILD community.

The second day of the conference concluded with local doctors from the Middle East region presenting four patient cases. The doctors showcased impressive knowledge of PH, indicating that patients in Saudi Arabia are in capable hands. Additionally, all PH medications are readily available due to the country’s economic prosperity, and a transplant program is in place for patients where medication no longer produces the desired effect.

Saudi Association for Pulmonary Hypertension

The final day of the conference commenced with a session discussing various PAH topics. Professor Jean-Luc Vachiery began by discussing PAH with comorbidities and potential treatment options and outcomes. Following this, Professor Regina Steringer-Mascherbauer from Austria presented real-life experiences with implantable treprostinil infusion pumps.

The subsequent session focused on CTEPH, with Professor Irene Lang discussing the multimodal management of this patient group. She outlined the three treatment options: Pulmonary Endarterectomy (PEA), Balloon Pulmonary Angioplasty (BPA), and PH medication. The choice of treatment, or combination thereof, depends on the location and sizes of the clots. CTEPH remains the only form of PH that can be cured, with successful patient stories being among those presented.

The final session of the conference explored an international perspective. Professor Jae-Hyeong Park discussed PH care in South Korea and highlighted collaborations among scientific communities in Korea, Japan, China, and Taiwan through initiatives such as EASOPH. Karen Osborn from PVRI then discussed their activities, paying special attention to the PHGPS survey and PVRI GoDeep global PH meta-registry, and encouraged involvement from the Middle East community.
Following PHA’s presentation, Hall Skaara from PHA Europe concluded the conference by introducing the European umbrella association and the newly opened Bel Air Center, which is now open for registration. The conference room remained full until the end, with thousands of specialists apparently following the conference online.

Saudi Association for Pulmonary Hypertension

SAPH2024 was a remarkable conference featuring a distinguished list of prominent PH specialists from around the world. The event was exceptionally well-organized, with everything from flight bookings to conference audio-visuals handled professionally. Recordings of all conference sessions are available on SAPH’s webpage.

Personally, my visit to Saudi Arabia was a unique experience. Coming from Norway, the culture and landscape of Saudi Arabia appeared exotic to me. I was deeply impressed by the hospitality shown by the organizers and the local people we encountered. It was evident that foreigners were warmly welcomed to the country, and we were informed about the nation’s efforts to promote tourism.

I extend my sincere gratitude to Prof. Aldolaan and Mr. Alorainy for their outstanding hospitality and for organizing a top-notch PH conference!

Riyadh, February 18th, 2024
Hall Skaara

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