Report on Down syndrome congress in Naples, Italy (18-19 October 2019)

The Italian Congress on “Down syndrome: from diagnosis to therapy” took place in Naples, on October 18-19, 2019, at the Medical School of Federico II University. This third edition of the congress, like the previous two, has been organized by Prof. Lucio Nitsch and his research team, with a highly relevant contribution given by Drs. Antonella Izzo and Nunzia Mollo. Registration to the congress was free to all scientists, and the congress was also open to students and relatives of people with Down syndrome. A total of about 200 people attended the congress. Many scientists came from the main Italian centers involved in research activities on Down syndrome (Bologna, Rome, Bari, Genoa, Potenza) and, among them, there were members of the T21RS, like Renata Bartesaghi, Rosa Vacca, Laura Cancedda, Perluigi Marzia, Angelo Carfì, Fiorenza Stagni, Sandra Guidi, Eugenio Barone, Chiara Lanzillotta, Salvatore Magara. Financial support for the meeting was provided, above all, by companies interested in cytogenomics and new technologies for trisomy screening. Also the T21RS endorsed the meeting with an ad hoc grant.

The afternoon of the 18th was dedicated to the screening and diagnostic problems of trisomies. Specific topics of Down syndrome, such as molecular mechanisms underlying its phenotype and modern therapeutic approaches, were debated during the whole day of the 19th. One of the highlights of the congress was the session “Current topics in T21 research” in which 4 young researchers made highly professional presentations about recent hot findings on T21. The topics treated were: protein homeostasis by Dr. Lanzillotta (Roma), neuronal plasticity by Dr. Magara (Genova), metabolomic profiles by Dr. Antonaros (Bologna) and epigenetic signatures by Dr. Bacalini (Bologna).

Prof. Bartesaghi coordinated a session in which several participants to the T21RS meeting, held in Barcelona on June 6-9, 2019, reported the highlights of the meeting and their personal considerations.
Dr. Vacca coordinated a session in which several researchers made short presentations on “Current advances on therapeutic approaches”.

One of the novelties of the 2019 Naples congress was the introduction of the ‘new technologies corners’. Among the presentations on new technologies the ‘digital PCR’ by Dr. Rita Genesio and the ‘isolation of fetal cells’ in mother’s blood by Dr. Anna Conti are worth mentioning.
Another novelty of the meeting was a session focused on Down syndrome problems in adult individuals, with the contribution of Drs. Angelo Carfì and Maria Leonarda De Rosa. The congress closed with a round table in which the application of the 6P medicine (predictive, preventive, personalized, precise, participatory, proactive) to Down syndrome was discussed. Participants to the round table included Prof. Guido Rocchi, the Drs. Iris Scala and Francesca Costanzo and Dr. Antonella Falugiani, President of the Coordown that coordinates most Italian Down syndrome associations.

Overall the congress was very successful, promoting new contacts among scientists from different laboratories and reinforcing the interactions among research groups working on Down syndrome.
The fourth edition of the congress is foreseen in October 2020, possibly in a different location in Italy.