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EORS 2023 Conference Report by Francesco Iorio

Francesco Iorio EORS 2023_edited.jpg

From the 27th to the 29th of September 2023, I had the opportunity to attend the European Orthopaedic Research Society 2023 (EORS2023) conference in Porto, Portugal, a scientific meeting that brought together over 400 European and international researchers working on musculoskeletal tissues, from bone and cartilage to tendon, which my PhD project revolves arounds specifically. The conference was organized by Prof. Manuela E. Gomes, who happens to be my scientific advisor during my ongoing research stay at 3Bs laboratories in Barco, Portugal. Conveniently, I started my planned secondment at her research group during the last month of preparation for the conference, so I had the chance to personally see the last phase of organizing such an important scientific event, and to assist with minor tasks; for example, monitoring specific symposium-sessions, interacting with the chairs and the speakers, and offering support to the attendees with regards to technical and logistical concerns.

On the first day, Prof. Denitsa Docheva from the University of Wuerzburg opened the scientific part of the conference with a talk on current management of tendinopathies and future perspectives, focusing on biological aspects of such diseases and promising targets for therapeutic interventions that are being tested now. Parallel symposium sessions followed, each concerning a common topic to all the short talks belonging to the specific session, and I had the chance to learn more about 3D biomimetic constructs, nanogels, and organs-on-a-chip, during the OS04 In vitro models (I) session, chaired by two members of 3Bs research group, Dr. Rui Domingues and Simão Teixeira, who both previously worked on tendon biomimetic scaffolds produced via electrospinning and incorporating biophysical cues, something I am also working on at the moment.

In the afternoon, Prof. Andreas Traweger from Paracelsus Medical University in Austria opened the heavily biology-focused symposium OS08 EVs (Extracellular Vesicles) with a talk on advanced tendon repair strategies through EVs and mRNA-based approaches. Prof. Traweger is a known name within the tendon repair community, and I had the chance to listen to him several times during past conferences. Not coincidentally, as his research work is related to what P4FIT is about, he was recently invited to attend the P4FIT Winter School in Austria in January to share his specific knowledge with us. This will be the perfect opportunity to personally talk with him on the potential of tendon biomimetic scaffolds for EVs and therapeutic mRNA targeted delivery, and immunological aspects to consider upon implantation and degradation of the scaffold in the human body.

Highlight of the second day was the P4FIT S11 symposium on perspectives for future innovation in tendon repair, organized in two sessions chaired respectively by Prof. Barbara Barboni, my PhD project co-supervisor from the University of Teramo, and Prof. Nicholas Forsyth from Keele University, and by Prof. Valentina Russo, second co-supervisor from the University of Teramo, and Prof. Giovanna Della Porta from the University of Salerno. The symposium included opening keynote lectures on nanomedicine for tendon repair, and on the role of tenocytes in tendon injury, to then continue with oral presentations from P4FIT early stage researchers from the University of Teramo, Salerno, Keele, and FAU. Apart from having the opportunity to reconnect with my colleagues and discuss internal developments to P4FIT and future events, such as an Innovation Forum in November and a Winter School in January, I could present to the attendees the research I have been working on during the last months at the University of Teramo, concerning the assessment of the tenogenic potential of electrospun fibers made of a blend of biocompatible polymers for tendon tissue engineering, with novel data regarding the characterization of amniotic epithelial stem cells seeded on the fibers. The presentation was well-received, with a follow-up question on the degradation rate of the fibers in vivo, and with positive comments from my two co-supervisors on the state of the results.

On the last day, I offered help with monitoring the room “Porto” and taking care of minor tasks during the morning session, having the chance to sit down and listen to the S20 symposium on pushing advanced therapy development in orthopaedics, chaired by Prof. Tobias Winkler from Charité Berlin and Dr. Andrew Williamson from Heraeus Medical. I gained insight into the challenges of bringing together researchers from academia and industry backgrounds into a newly-founded alliance, AtiO based in Berlin, aimed at addressing the medical needs of orthopaedics by creating advanced personalized therapies for bone healing. Lastly, I supervised the session OS29 on miRNA, chaired by Prof. Elizabeth Belmayor, another known name in the tendon field from Aachen University Hospital, and Dr. Veronica Tilotta from Università Campus Biomedico in Rome, shedding light on key miRNAs acting as regulator for bone and tendon homeostasis and offering a promising route as therapeutic agents through targeted delivery. 

In the afternoon, the conference closing and awards ceremony was held, with an invitation to join EORS 2024 in Aalborg, Denmark, and with closing remarks on the importance of having such scientific events bringing together researchers working on the musculoskeletal system to discuss challenges, needs, and advances of a field we are actively contributing to with our daily efforts.


Francesco Iorio, 08/10/2023 

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