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Vol. 31 No. 5
September-October 2009

Conference Call | Reports from recent conferences and symposia 
See also www.iupac.org/indexes/Conferences

Clinical Laboratory and in vitro Diagnostics

by Xavier Filella

The fifth European Symposium on Clinical Laboratory and in vitro Diagnostics, held 16–17 April 2009 at the Institut d’Estudis Catalans in Barcelona (Catalonia, Spain), focused on “Standardization and Tumor Markers.” This IUPAC-sponsored conference was organized by the Catalan Association for Clinical Laboratory Sciences. Xavier Fuentes (Hospital de Bellvitge, L’Hospitalet de Llobregat) represented IUPAC at the meeting.
The main objective of the symposium was discussing the present and future of standardization in the measurement of tumor markers and, particularly, the clinical usefulness of these biomarkers. More than 100 participants from 6 countries took part in the meeting, which was based on the real experiences of laboratory and industry professionals, including members of Abbott, Beckman Coulter, Olympus, Roche Diagnostics, and Siemens.

One of the highlights of the meeting was a discussion about the problems of interchangeability in the concentrations of tumor markers in relationship to the method used in their measurement. Particularly, the speakers focused their attention on differences between methods for measuring prostate-specific antigen, or PSA, with the adoption of the International Reference Preparation WHO 96/670. The adoption of this standard in the measurement of PSA supposes the usefulness of a new cut-off of 3,1 ng/ml in substitution of the older cut-off of 4 ng/ml. On the other hand, the experts indicated that, in addition to the standard, there are other factors, such as incubation time, matrix effect, or the platform used that influence the results.

The symposium featured four roundtable discussions in which participants exchanged views and discussed opportunities for future activities regarding the following topics:

  • It is necessary to obtain the standardization of tumor markers, but what are the problems?
  • The industry and the standardization of tumor markers: why our results are so different?
  • The clinical usefulness of tumor markers
  • The interpretation of results: standardization and cut-off values

Another conclusion of the symposium was that the complexity of the substances used as tumor markers makes it difficult to compare results obtained from different methods, although advances were made in cases such as CEA, AFP, and PSA. In this regard, speakers pointed to the International Federation of Clinical Biochemistry and Laboratory Medicine’s project to clarify the nomenclature and characterization of various forms of this biomarker.

Xavier Filella <xfilella@clinic.ub.es> was the chair of the organizing committee; he is a member of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics at the Hospital Clínic in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain.


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