Biotechnica 2010, a biotechnology and life-sciences exhibition, is set be held on 5-7 October in Germany and will broaden its portfolio to include a conference and display on molecular diagnostics.
Produced by the Cambridge Healthtech Institute, the Molecular Diagnostics Europe conference is making its debut this year.
The main focus will be on new methods for molecular diagnostics, particularly with regard to cancer and infectious diseases.
Thanks to the systematic and increasingly easy analysis of genes and proteins, researchers are beginning to understand diseases at the molecular level.
This understanding is paving the way for easy-to-apply testing systems, since if a particular molecule or gene segment is characteristic of an infectious agent or particular kind of tumour, that molecule or gene can also be detected.
The goal of biomedical researchers is to create automatic diagnostic systems - so-called 'sample in, answer out' solutions.
These systems promise to give doctors and their patients clear and fast answers to their questions without needing to submit samples and wait days or weeks for the laboratory results.
For patients, this means faster diagnosis and treatment; for example, the right antibiotic for a bacterial infection or therapy that is tailored to a specific tumour disease.
A key foundation for the diagnosis methods involves a new DNA sequencing technology known as next-generation sequencing (NGS).
This technology enables faster and cheaper analysis of human or bacterial genomes than was previously possible.
Analyses that used to take months now take days when NGS methods are applied.
These screening methods allow researchers to find pathogens that can not only survive in complex systems such as natural biofilms and that cannot be produced in a laboratory environment.
These methods also make possible the analysis of gene segments that are characteristic to particular types of cancer as well as familial disease or unstable genes that are especially susceptible to illness.
Point-of-care testing is becoming increasingly important for physicians who need to deliver an initial diagnosis at the patient's bedside, in the doctor's office or in an ambulance.
The physician can test blood, urine or a smear without needing to send in the samples to a laboratory.
Although point-of-care testing cannot replace detailed laboratory analysis, the market is growing rapidly, especially as involves new microfluidic systems.
Tiny lab-on-a-chip solutions combined with highly-sensitive molecular markers make point-of-care systems a key tool in rapid diagnostics.
Dr Rosanna W Peeling, professor diagnostics research at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, will delivery a keynote presentation detailing the opportunities and challenges associated with systems for the diagnosis and treatment of infectious diseases.
Other keynote speakers include: Dr Johan den Dunnen from the Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands; Dr Rudi Pauwels from Biocartis in Switzerland; Dr Stephen Little from Qiagen in the UK; and Dr Mark P Stevenson from Life Technologies in the US.