Meetings and Events

Breast Cancer Awareness Month at Spirit Group; an informative talk on risk and prevention by Dr Michelle Harvie, and lots of pink-themed fundraising!

Breast cancer is the biggest cause of death of women aged between 35 and 49, and roughly 55,000 people are diagnosed every year. This means that 1 in 9 women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime, as well as around 1 in 1000 men.[1]  In recognition of the widespread reach of this illness, Spirit…Read more »

Breast cancer is the biggest cause of death of women aged between 35 and 49, and roughly 55,000 people are diagnosed every year. This means that 1 in 9 women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime, as well as around 1 in 1000 men.[1]  In recognition of the widespread reach of this illness, Spirit Group has spent the past month taking part in a number of charitable and educational activities for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Kicking off the charitable activities in the Spirit Group offices, our Operations Assistant Becky attended a talk at Alderley Park hosted by research dietician Dr Michelle Harvie and fundraising representatives from Prevent Breast Cancer, the sole UK charity dedicated to researching the prediction and prevention of breast cancer. They are based at The Nightingale Centre in Wythenshawe, Manchester – the only breast cancer prevention centre in the UK.

The talk centred around breakthroughs in diagnostic treatments, inspirational stories of the women fighting cancer on the front lines and also how we can best improve our chances of avoiding the cancer altogether.

Whilst women are biologically predisposed to the risks of developing breast cancer – and some women are more susceptible due to genetic factors – Dr Harvie explained that Western culture and lifestyle have had a major impact on the increasing rate of breast cancer. She outlined how simple lifestyle changes could prevent up to 25% of cases:[2][3]

  • Control your alcohol intake – it’s recommended you drink no more than 14 units of alcohol per week.
  • Avoid smoking – the risk of developing breast cancer appears to be greater if smoking begins at a younger age, and particularly before having your first-born child.
  • Maintain a healthy weight – a 3-stone weight gain can double your chances of developing breast cancer.
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet – include lots of fruit, vegetables, lean protein and wholegrain carbohydrates whilst reducing saturated fat and added sugar.

Finally, Dr Harvie stressed that she wanted weight loss and management to be an affordable, attainable target for women looking to better protect themselves against breast cancer. Her research in the area has resulted in the emergence of the increasingly popular Intermittent or 2-Day Diet, in which dieters adopt 2 ‘fasting’ low-calorie days into their weekly schedule whilst eating freely (albeit sensibly) for the rest of the week. The results have been incredibly successful, with ~7 in 10 dieters successfully losing weight and maintaining weight loss. More information can be found in Dr Harvie’s book The 2-Day Diet: Diet Two Days a Week. Eat Normally for Five.[4]

It’s clear that Dr Harvie and everyone at Prevent Breast Cancer are continuing to work tirelessly to improve screening procedures, pursue research into genetic vulnerabilities, and campaign and raise money for services that will better protect women from breast cancer. Their work is truly inspiring!

To celebrate and support the great work being done by breast cancer charities such as Prevent Breast Cancer, we painted the town pink with our rosy-hued garments for the Wear It Pink Campaign on Friday 18th October. Everyone wore their brightest clothing into the Spirit Group offices for a pink party, complete with a pink-themed drinks trolley! A few of us were surprised at just how many pink items we owned…

We also competed against one another in a pink-themed quiz, featuring questions that ranged from Grease’s Pink Ladies to the pink city of Jaipur.

It’s been a fantastic month learning about the latest oncological innovations taking place in Manchester and helping to raise awareness and money for leading breast cancer charities – and we’ve been doing it in style, as you can see from our pink-filled picture!

[1] About Us. https://preventbreastcancer.org.uk/about-us/ (Accessed 30 October 2019).

[2] Diet and Lifestyle. https://preventbreastcancer.org.uk/breast-cancer-research/research-projects/diet-and-lifestyle/ (Accessed 28 October 2019).

[3] Causes and Risk Factors. https://preventbreastcancer.org.uk/about-breast-cancer/causes-and-risk-factors/ (Accessed 29 October 2019).

[4] The 2 Day Diet. https://preventbreastcancer.org.uk/2_day_diet/ (Accessed 29 October 2019).

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Mental Health Awareness Week at Spirit Group

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, and at Spirit Group we’ve been busy exploring ways to support the wellbeing of ourselves and others around us. Mental health is just as important as physical health, although it is often overlooked due to the associated stigma. Taking time away from your desk to walk and talk…Read more »

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, and at Spirit Group we’ve been busy exploring ways to support the wellbeing of ourselves and others around us.

Mental health is just as important as physical health, although it is often overlooked due to the associated stigma. Taking time away from your desk to walk and talk with colleagues is just one act of care you can do for yourself, as well as offering support to others, during the working day.

We’ve spent the past two weeks at Spirit Group putting this into practice by challenging ourselves to walk as far as possible in our charity Spirit Group Step Count Challenge. Together we’ve walked a total of 3,385,423 steps – the same distance as walking from Land’s End to John O’Groats two and a half times! We will be donating all of the money raised to key mental health charities to help support those who are struggling.

On World Mental Health Day, we also erected a Positivity Wall in the Spirit Group offices and invited everyone to share activities and tricks that make us feel better when we’re stressed or anxious. The result was a beautiful rainbow display of suggestions; from meditation to playing with pets, various forms of exercise, baking, colouring, poetry, writing letters to friends and family and many, many more recommendations. It was great to see so many different ideas, and acted as a powerful reminder that everybody needs to unwind and take time for themselves.

Spirit Group is proud to provide support and raise awareness of the challenges associated with mental health, not just this week but all year round.

#EveryMindMatters #MentalHealth

 

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Spirit Group raising awareness for World IBD Day

In support of World IBD Day on Sunday 19th May, Spirit Group has focused on raising awareness through our social media postings highlighting the key aspects of IBD, and the challenges those impacted by this condition face every day. @spirit_med Spirit Medical Communications Group By sharing these facts and figures, we are joining in raising awareness…Read more »

In support of World IBD Day on Sunday 19th May, Spirit Group has focused on raising awareness through our social media postings highlighting the key aspects of IBD, and the challenges those impacted by this condition face every day. @spirit_med Spirit Medical Communications Group

By sharing these facts and figures, we are joining in raising awareness of IBD – to make the invisible visible.

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Spirit Group at ECCO 2019: Updates and Findings from the 14th Congress in Copenhagen

Last week, teams from Spirit Group travelled to the Bella Center in Copenhagen to attend the 14th Congress of ECCO. Delegates from across the globe came together at the biggest European congress for Inflammatory Bowel Disease to learn about the latest discoveries and updated therapies in the field of biomarkers, and how advancing technology (prominently,…Read more »

Last week, teams from Spirit Group travelled to the Bella Center in Copenhagen to attend the 14th Congress of ECCO.

Delegates from across the globe came together at the biggest European congress for Inflammatory Bowel Disease to learn about the latest discoveries and updated therapies in the field of biomarkers, and how advancing technology (prominently, artificial intelligence) will impact the entire medical community, from researchers to physicians to patients. With over 1,000 abstracts shared over the course of the congress, we have selected our top highlights from the week to share with you here.

Novel therapies

  • ABX464 demonstrated safety and efficacy in a proof-of-concept Phase IIa study in 32 patients with ulcerative colitis (presented by Jean-Marc Steens, OP21). ABX464 is a first-in-class small molecule that binds the cap binding complex, thereby enhancing splicing of an lncRNA, which ultimately leads to increased levels of miR-124, a potent anti-inflammatory microRNA
  • Mirikizumab, a p19-directed anti-IL-23 antibody, demonstrated safety and efficacy over the first 52 weeks of maintenance (presented by Geert D’Haens, OP38). Efficacy was similar in patients who had previous exposure to biologics, and in those who were biologic-naïve, and was observed with two dose regimens of mirikizumab
  • Can the old dog learn new tricks? A new subcutaneous formulation of infliximab showed similar efficacy and safety to the intravenous formulation and demonstrated consistent drug exposure during maintenance treatment (Walter Reinisch, DOP62). This may expand treatment options for infliximab, as maintaining specific trough levels of infliximab was shown to significantly increase remission rates in the PRECISION study (DOP56)

 

Updates on established therapies

  • The Phase IIIb study VARSITY demonstrated superior clinical remission and mucosal healing with vedolizumab compared with adalimumab in patients with ulcerative colitis; the clinical superiority of vedolizumab was most pronounced in the anti-TNF-naïve subpopulation (presented by Stefan Schreiber, OP34)
  • No new safety concerns were identified in the GEMINI long-term safety study of 9 years (presented by Remo Panaccione, OP26). The study included patients with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis who received vedolizumab every 4 weeks
  • Updates on the UNIFI Phase III study showed that ustekinumab maintenance is safe and effective in patients with ulcerative colitis (presented by William Sandborn, OP37). In addition, further analyses in a subset of UNIFI patients showed that ustekinumab induction leads to suppression of inflammatory pathways and normalisation of colonic gene signature (OP13)
  • Updates on the OCTAVE studies (DOP41, DOP43) showed that tofacitinib is effective at inducing and maintaining remission and mucosal healing over 52 weeks regardless of prior anti-TNF exposure
  • A long-term follow-up of patients who completed the CALM study showed that remission at 1 year correlates with a decreased risk of disease complications over the next 3 years (presented by Clara Yzet, OP35). However, there was no statistically significant difference in long-term disease course between patients who were in the treat-to-target versus conventional management group

 

The era of Big Data

  • Hospital digital records grow by 48% each year. Every day the medical community invents new ways to use patient clinical records to gain a deeper understanding of disease predisposition and predict response to treatment. Some of the caveats may be defining data ownership, and if it belongs to patients rather than hospitals, and whether giving researchers access to such data will be complicated by the GDPR guidelines
  • A pilot study in Spain aims to integrate the clinical records of 3000 patients into a multidimensional model that will predict the course and outcomes of Crohn’s disease (PREMONITION-CD). Ignacio Hernandez-Medrano and colleagues are using computer linguistics to help transcribe free text medical records into specific data points that can subsequently be analysed by a machine. AI will not replace a physician, but we can harness its power to free physicians from many tasks and let them concentrate on interacting with patients
  • In the next couple of decades, we can expect to see a new wave of robotic surgery technology that will be more digitalised and integrated and will use machine learning to provide surgeons with actionable insights

 

What’s in a gut?

  • The results of a high-resolution genome–microbiome association study showed that the microbiome composition can be influenced by host genetics (presented by Shixian Hu, OP1)
  • Luc Biedermann (OP6) reported that the composition of mucosa-associated microbiota in patients in remission correlates with the host’s psychological wellbeing
  • Yet another study showed that individualised microbial variations in quiescent CD can precede and predict disease flare (DOP36)
  • Interestingly, both studies used machine learning to predict these associations; the study of Luc Biedermann and colleagues had 80–90% prediction accuracy
  • Is it possible that, in the future, therapeutic manipulation of microbiota may help improve patients’ quality of life and perhaps even prevent relapse?

 

Getting personal

  • As mentioned by Arthur Kaser, IBD is not one disease, but a spectrum of diseases that are affected by hundreds of candidate genetic mutations and an as yet unknown number of environmental factors. Currently available treatments are mostly generic suppressors of intestinal inflammation, but we are moving towards a future of personalised medicine
  • A number of candidate biomarkers are currently being explored. In order to utilise them effectively, the diagnostic and clinical classification systems need to be adjusted (for example, Montreal classification does not match the known molecular profiles of patient subpopulations). Further research is needed to integrate DNA/RNA and protein data with microbiome profiling
  • In the future, multi-omics-based analyses may help predict response to therapy and guide treatment decisions

 

A thought-provoking and thoroughly informative congress all round! If you have any questions or thoughts on any of the findings above, do not hesitate to contact our experienced team at Spirit Group here. We’re already looking forward to seeing what ECCO 2020 brings!

 

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Spirit Group at the European Meeting of ISMPP, 22-23 January 2019

This year, over 300 publication professionals gathered at the European ISMPP meeting in London to discuss patient involvement, open access publishing, real-world evidence, data sharing, publication integrity, and many more engaging topics. We were very excited to see the growing interest in patients as active partners in clinical research and medical communications, relieved to witness…Read more »

This year, over 300 publication professionals gathered at the European ISMPP meeting in London to discuss patient involvement, open access publishing, real-world evidence, data sharing, publication integrity, and many more engaging topics. We were very excited to see the growing interest in patients as active partners in clinical research and medical communications, relieved to witness the increasing impact of real-world evidence, and braced ourselves for the exponential rise of the use of artificial intelligence in healthcare.

Enter your details here to request a copy of our Spotlight on ISMPP report, or contact us directly here to discuss any aspect of the evolution of the medical communications and the Spirit Group approach.

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Spirit Group looking forward to attending ISMPP EU 2019

Spirit Group is getting ready to meet you at ISMPP (International Society for Medical Publication Professionals) Europe 2019. Come over and see us at stand 3 to discuss the latest trends in publication planning and how Spirit Group brings Personality to all of our communication programmes.

Spirit Group is getting ready to meet you at ISMPP (International Society for Medical Publication Professionals) Europe 2019. Come over and see us at stand 3 to discuss the latest trends in publication planning and how Spirit Group brings Personality to all of our communication programmes.

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Spirit Group discusses Patient Engagement

Better informed patients = Better health outcomes – Spirit Group supports presentations on the gaps in information provision at PM Society Patient Engagement Interest Group event The PM Society’s Patient Engagement Interest Group (PEIG) hosted an insightful educational event at the Royal Society of Medicine in London on 27 November. The event gave the PEIG…Read more »

Better informed patients = Better health outcomes – Spirit Group supports presentations on the gaps in information provision at PM Society Patient Engagement Interest Group event

The PM Society’s Patient Engagement Interest Group (PEIG) hosted an insightful educational event at the Royal Society of Medicine in London on 27 November. The event gave the PEIG the opportunity to present the fascinating results of recent surveys of the views of doctors and patients alike.

Denise Silber, the Founder of Doctors 2.0 and You opened up proceedings on the day by reminding attendees that patient engagement is not a new concept.

Discussions about patient engagement started many years ago, with an initial focus on the important role of patient advocacy to represent the patients’ voice. Since then many more terms have been used, including e-patients, patient-centred care, patient engagement and participatory medicine. Many fantastic initiatives are now in place that really focus on patient involvement at all stages of their healthcare journey, but there is still a lot more to do, especially for more difficult to reach patient groups such as the young, the elderly and those with lower levels of literacy.

Assessing the health information needs of patients, caregivers, relatives and friends

One of Spirit Group’s Senior Scientific Directors, Nikki Kendrick, an active member of the PEIG, supported with a fully collaborative PEIG workstream survey that was circulated via the talkhealth platform and also distributed through the PEIG members’ own social media networks.

 

Spirit Group teams and their contacts also responded to the survey, providing their own personal insight on their information preferences either as carers or even patients themselves. Nikki co-presented the initial results of the survey (from 510 fully completed surveys) focusing on analysis of the quotes obtained through the open text fields. Overall, the online survey reported that those seeking health information did so on a regular (weekly/monthly) basis and most typically using technology, such as internet searching and mobile apps. Although as Deborah Wyatt pointed out in her presentation, this was an online survey! Despite being technically competent in using online sources, respondents still reported that they found many sources they searched out themselves either unhelpful or conflicting, adding to their confusion and causing frustration.

The information sources deemed most and least helpful amongst the survey respondents were:

The majority (43%) turned to online information sources because they felt they provided the most convenient and easy to access information. But they often doubted how trustworthy the information is and preferred getting information from their own doctor if that was possible. However, they were also aware of the time constraints in the health service system. Receiving direct communication with a personal touch was preferred by 22% of respondents.

Survey questions about the best types of information demonstrated clearly that no one type ticked all of the boxes for all people and so information should be provided in a variety of ways so that patients can have choice.

The survey also confirmed, amongst a smaller group of respondents who answered this section, that patient stories and local support, lay summaries of recent research and a system for access to experts on-demand would be very useful. The message seemed to be that even complex information was welcome and not to be avoided, although it should be presented in a clear, concise and straight forward language – just plain English!

In closing, both presenters confirmed how the results of the survey will really help in fine-tuning how all stakeholders, including the pharmaceutical industry, should approach the development of patient engagement strategies. The full results of the survey will be published in a PEIG White Paper after which the PEIG workstream will assess next steps e.g. the development of paper-based surveys, and other key areas that would warrant further investigation.

The event poster can be found on our twitter page here and the event summary from the PM Society can be found here.

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Game, set and match for Spirit Group!

Our Spirit Group summer business update provided a fantastic opportunity to bring together the majority of the Spirit Group family – our Didsbury and Alderley Park teams and our remote workers from across the UK. We celebrated a further quarter of medical communications success and growth, and our enthusiastic and forward-thinking Working Groups updated us…Read more »

Our Spirit Group summer business update provided a fantastic opportunity to bring together the majority of the Spirit Group family – our Didsbury and Alderley Park teams and our remote workers from across the UK. We celebrated a further quarter of medical communications success and growth, and our enthusiastic and forward-thinking Working Groups updated us on the business initiatives they have been prioritising to further enhance the executional and operational excellence that Spirit Group is renowned for.

The day was rounded off nicely with our own Wimbledon-themed event – complete with Pimms, strawberries & cream and lots of Spirited fun!

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Spirit Group at EULAR 2018

This year’s European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) congress was a busy one indeed! A record breaking >5000 abstract submissions and 32 industry-supported symposia, many running simultaneously, reflecting the highly-competitive nature of the meeting and underscoring the need for communications and content with a difference. Key front page EULAR Congress News themes included: Patient engagement with…Read more »

This year’s European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) congress was a busy one indeed! A record breaking >5000 abstract submissions and 32 industry-supported symposia, many running simultaneously, reflecting the highly-competitive nature of the meeting and underscoring the need for communications and content with a difference.

Key front page EULAR Congress News themes included:

Patient engagement with their treatment and their disease
Enabling and encouraging patients to be more than passive participants in their own care was a very hot topic. Dr Yeliz Prior, PhD, Director of postgraduate research at the School of Health Sciences at the University of Salford in Manchester, UK noted that “We know that patient information and education have been shown to improve pain, self-efficacy and overall quality of life in people with musculoskeletal conditions (MSCs)”.  She added that “Informed patients are better equipped to distinguish and manage the symptoms of MSCs, use treatments effectively, identify and access [the] appropriate health and social care services they need, manage work and develop better coping strategies to deal with the negative psychological impact of their own conditions, such as stress, anxiety and depression”.

The ‘Don’t Delay, Connect Today’ campaign
The theme of patient engagement was also reflected in EULARs ‘Don’t Delay, Connect Today’ campaign. The campaign is now in its second year and aims to raise awareness of how important early diagnosis, and early treatment where indicated, is in preventing further damage for people with rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases (RMDs). Prof. Gerd R. Burmester (Past President of EULAR and Professor of medicine at Berlin’s Charité University Clinic) noted that by encouraging people to work together, positive steps can be taken to improve the lives of those living with RMDs. This is particularly significant as awareness of the importance of early diagnosis is limited amongst the general public, in people with RMDs, and even among many doctors and health professionals in rheumatology.

Biosimilar use
The importance of keeping the patient at the centre of the decision to switch from an originator biologic to a biosimilar was also at the forefront of many presentations and discussions. There was a call for more randomised controlled trials on the safety of multiple switching, and discussion about the vital role of pharmacovigilance in confirming the safety of all biologics on a long-term basis.

We’re looking forward to next year’s agenda already!

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Spirit Group at the 23rd congress of the European Hematology Association

This weekend Spirit Group were in Stockholm, attending the 23rd congress of the European Hematology Association, one of the largest hematology events of the year. Hot topics this year included: The increasing use of biomarkers in the treatment of hematological malignancies. In addition to their prognostic value, biomarkers are increasingly being used to guide treatment…Read more »

This weekend Spirit Group were in Stockholm, attending the 23rd congress of the European Hematology Association, one of the largest hematology events of the year.

Hot topics this year included:

  • The increasing use of biomarkers in the treatment of hematological malignancies. In addition to their prognostic value, biomarkers are increasingly being used to guide treatment by identifying patients likely to respond to particular therapies or those at increased risk of adverse events.
  • The move away from chemotherapies towards using combinations of targeted therapies to treat indolent Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. With a plethora of targeted therapies either approved or under investigation for use in these indications, including anti-CD20 monoclonal antibodies and B-cell receptor signaling inhibitors, the key challenge will be finding out the optimal way to combine these powerful agents.

This years’ presidential symposium (a session covering abstracts of particularly important scientific interest) included data from two studies involving rituximab, an anti-CD20 monoclonal antibody, in non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Presented first were data from the Phase 3 CLL11 study, which was designed to compare the efficacy and safety of rituximab and obinutuzumab (a glycoengineered anti-CD20 monoclonal antibody), both in combination with the chemotherapy agent chlorambucil, in patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia. In this final analysis of the study, obinutuzumab was found to significantly prolong progression-free survival, time to next treatment and overall survival compared with rituximab; however, caution must be exercised as obinutuzumab was associated with greater toxicity than rituximab.

Also presented in this session were data from the Phase 3 RELEVANCE study, which was designed to compare the efficacy and safety of rituximab combined with either chemotherapy (current standard of care) or the immunomodulatory agent lenalidomide, in patients with follicular lymphoma. The two treatments were found to have comparable efficacy, but differences in their safety profiles, suggesting that rituximab plus lenalidomide may be a treatment option for certain patients at risk of toxicities associated with the current standard of care.

In summary, a wealth of interesting and exciting research was presented across the 4-day congress in both oral and poster format. We can’t wait to see the latest data at next year’s congress in Amsterdam; we hope to see you there!

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