Training & Education

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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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 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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We’re hiring – Account Director

Spirit is an independent, agile global medical communications agency with a passion for service excellence, thanks to the talented individuals in our team. We’re growing and seek a self-starter with a proven track record to join as an Account Director/Leader, to partner with clients who have global responsibilities for pipeline and marketed products in a variety of…Read more »

Spirit is an independent, agile global medical communications agency with a passion for service excellence, thanks to the talented individuals in our team. We’re growing and seek a self-starter with a proven track record to join as an Account Director/Leader, to partner with clients who have global responsibilities for pipeline and marketed products in a variety of therapy areas.
This role is hands-on, and requires both strategic and tactical know-how, combined with strong leadership and communication skills to ensure our client relationships continue to flourish.

If you’re passionate about building great relationships with clients and external stakeholders, and bringing new ideas to shape our business….. we want to hear from you.

Above all we seek talented team-players, who demonstrate entrepreneurial spirit and a continuous desire to enable clients to succeed.
We offer a flexible, relaxed and fun environment where new ideas and continuous improvement are embraced.

Interested?…… please contact Asif Zaman for an exploratory discussion:-

asif.zaman@spirit.global

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Another successful advisory board!

It is that time of the year… the time when you give yourself a pat on the back for having not only survived the last six months, but also navigated the first part of the year’s advisory boards, congresses, standalones etc. While the majority of clients have a well-earned rest over the summer, we look…Read more »

Czech beerr

It is that time of the year… the time when you give yourself a pat on the back for having not only survived the last six months, but also navigated the first part of the year’s advisory boards, congresses, standalones etc. While the majority of clients have a well-earned rest over the summer, we look forward to doing it all again in September and, in the meantime, getting some filing done!

With this in mind, it is with some relief and a tremendous amount of pride that we, the Spirit team, are happy to say that we have just completed the last big event of the season – yeah baby!!

A global standalone in was held in the lovely city of Prague in the Czech Republic. It was a one and a half day educational meeting with a global faculty of 16 great multidisciplinary speakers who shared their insights on the latest developments in their field. The carefully designed programme was not only highly informative, but also highly interactive with numerous case study presentations and panel debates. Simultaneous translation of the meeting as well as a live webcast and a meeting-specific website were also available to the delegates.

It was an arduous but satisfying task especially as the feedback from nearly 200 attendees across 17 countries was all extremely positive, which is brilliant! Our client was of course also thrilled… but never a team to rest on our laurels, we are looking to building on the live interaction elements showcased this year and bring even more digital technology to future offerings.

It wasn’t all work though as the team did get time for a quick one (or two)!!

By Verity and Sarah

To find our more about our scientific standalone meeting support see our meetings and events services page

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8th Annual European CME Forum

With an ever increasing need for high quality independent medical education, interest within our client teams regarding the optimal approach to supporting CME-accredited initiatives continues to grow. As a key part of our business, the Spirit team keep up to date with developments in accredited medical education, so we are really looking forward to the…Read more »

With an ever increasing need for high quality independent medical education, interest within our client teams regarding the optimal approach to supporting CME-accredited initiatives continues to grow. As a key part of our business, the Spirit team keep up to date with developments in accredited medical education, so we are really looking forward to the forthcoming 8th Annual European CME Forum, to be held in Manchester, UK, later this year.

The interactive programme is designed to give delegates the opportunity to participate in key discussions with leading experts regarding hot topics in CME, as well as pick up practical tips on when and how to consider a CME accredited activity. More information can be found here: http://europeancmeforum.eu/the-eighth-annual-european-cme-forum/

Within the Spirit team we have extensive experience of delivering CME accredited programmes including live meetings, online training and educational programmes. Please do not hesitate to contact Dawn or Richard if you would like to discuss how the Spirit team can support you or your colleagues with CME accredited activities.

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