What interesting times we are living in…

A few months ago, I was sure I would not be attending the International Society for Extracellular Vesicles (ISEV) conference in USA. This cross-Atlantic event would be covered by my colleagues from the local team. Then the world experienced lockdown, bringing limitations in most of our personal, and business, activities. But there were positives as well, ISEV 2020 became a virtual event. Malvern Panalytical knew we still had to take part allowing me to join without the cost of a flight!

As my first virtual conference, this brought feelings around the “unknown” topped with a lot of excitement at the possibilities. How to interact with delegates, the organizers, the materials, the tech. And of course, I was excited to learn about new discoveries and challenges this application area is seeing. I couldn’t wait to find out.

Preparations went into top gear involving the team scattered around the globe. Surrounded by questions: “How are we going communicate with attendees? How will we be able to demonstrate the value of our solutions effectively? ”. Producing and recording the presentations didn’t seem so difficult until my audience aged 4-7 appeared 😊. I am sure you can relate!

Virtual good morning, afternoon and evening seminar

20th of July arrived, and after a full day of work meetings, I logged to the ISEV 2020 portal and… Yes- it worked! It started with a fantastic introduction to EV biogenesis by Phyllis Hanson. She highlighted the role exosomes play in all physiological activities including exercise and ageing. It is clear, the EV community knows a lot about exosomes’ nature – their diversity and heterogeneity. They are hoping to unlock codes of intercellular communication and EVs’ role in physiology and pathophysiology.

I must admit, it was a bit odd to watch a ‘webinar’ on your own. Soon, it became more comfortable with a cup of tea, and cuddles of tired children before bedtime. On the other side of the screen, people were being brave to ask questions when Kenneth Witwer put on his ‘questioning hat’ on…

Later at night in the UK, ‘ISEV guidelines…’ by Clotilde Théry clearly stated progress, and remaining work for standardization. An Hendrix put the importance stamp on the multi-technology characterization of EVs to assess the results of separation.

The first day was a long and tiring for someone 5-hours ahead…

From celebrations to unanswered questions

Day 2, I started to really appreciate the convenience of the virtual experience. It was full of smiles and happiness during the celebration of my daughter’s 5th birthday 😊. It was also an important date for the ISEV community to celebrate the new board with Clotilde Théry as new ISEV President.

Later on, the discussions around various characterization technologies saw lots of questions from the audience. I would like to address some unanswered and directly related to NanoSight Nanoparticle Tracking Analysis (NTA) questions.

NTA is a high-resolution technique allowing a great insight into the sample polydispersity. Although without specific fluorescence labelling it is impossible to distinguish exosomes from protein or other particles, the technique is widely accepted and used for exosomes characterization. It provides information about the whole sample that are invaluable when assessing purification techniques or comparing batches.

For EVs samples, the best practice is to report the Mode size along with the distribution range rather than the Mean size. Be assured that NanoSight NTA meets ISO 19430 standard for size measurement (more information: webinar and technical note). The Concentration Upgrade algorithm compensates for user settings delivering much more robust and repeatable concentration data. And for those working with many samples, our Sample Assistant Autosampler is available for walk-away analysis up to 96 samples. If you would like to get more information, please get in touch.

Day 3 brought the event to a well summarized conclusion. I came away feeling that I had experienced a great opportunity to expand my knowledge of EV’s. It is clear that EV research is expanding, not contracting and is highly supported by constantly developing technologies.

So what did I think about my first attendance at a virtual conference?

Well, you can’t replace the experience and catch-ups over coffee (or wine) when meeting your friends, research colleagues, collaborators, users, and new people in person. Even if you might not remember the name, you definitely associate the face with the discussion 😊. This time you haven’t traveled, but you feel you have been away. And you still probably drank too much coffee and had mountains of snacks along with other 1574 attendees at the largest ISEV meeting ever!

Thanks to all who shared NanoSight NTA experience in their talks and posters. Somehow closer to the speakers, somehow far away from the rest of the attendees… For all who missed the opportunity to listen to our presentation, view our poster, or chat with us during the conference, please get in touch!

I am saying goodbye to ISEV 2020 richer in knowledge but still hungry for lively discussions with current and potential customers 😊. Hope to see you all next year in Lyon!

Now its homework time… tons of posters and seminars on demand to go through…