University of Birmingham Panel Session

University of Birmingham Panel Session 

My name is Alice and I am a Research Scientist at Future Genetics.

In keeping with the ethos of empowerment at Future Genetics, Dr Mohammed Kamran, who is the CEO and Medical Director of the organisation, will be participating in a panel discussion being held at the University of Birmingham, titled ‘Insights into Science: in and out of Labs’. The event is being held on Wednesday the 30th of January.

This provides an opportunity for students at the University of Birmingham to gain insights into the career opportunities that are available to them and capture the experiences and perspectives of the panel speakers. The speaker panel consists of 6 members, that include 2 patent attorney and trademark specialists, an application team manager, a business engagement manager, a life sciences recruitment consultant, as well as Dr Kamran, who will provide insights into his academic, clinical trials and research and development experiences.

This event compliments another event that Dr Kamran spoke at, which was the Aston University Careers Event in December 2018. For those who are interested, please click the link below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_mR3DzL_qB4

Given our relationship with the University of Birmingham, we hope Future Genetics can add value to the next generation of Scientists, Entrepreneurs and Innovators. 

Thank You

Mental Health Disorders in Children and Young People

Mental Health

Mental health is a topic that has only very recently come into the forefront after an incredibly long period of silence. It is often something that people prefer not to address, or feel is not relevant to them and can in turn be a misunderstood subject. The negative stigma and discrimination around mental health can be driving force in stopping people with mental health disorders seek help. Therefore, it is important that we all contribute to raising awareness of the reality of mental health and its importance in people of all ages and backgrounds.

NHS Survey

My name is Sabrina and I am a Research Scientist at Future Genetics. From January 1999 to December 2017, the NHS carried out major surveys of the mental health of children and young people in England and published a report of the findings on the 22nd of November of this year. A number of different types of disorders were assessed for with ‘rigorous, detailed and consistent methods’. Amongst these disorders were; emotional disorders, behavioural disorders, hyperactivity disorders and less common disorders.

Results

Overall, the results showed that one in eight (12.8%) of 5 to 19 year olds have at least one mental health disorder, primarily being emotional disorders, as you can see by this bar chart (Figure 1). This also represents the rise in rates of emotional mental health disorders as age increases.

Mental Health Disorders in Children and Young People

Figure 1: Rates of different types of disorder in 5 to 19-year olds by age. (NHS Digital, 2018)

Mental Health and Gender

From ages 2 to 10, boys were more likely than girls to have a disorder, with boys aged 5 to 10 being almost twice as likely than girls of the same age to have a mental health disorder. Amongst the 11 to 16-year olds, girls and boys were equally likely to have a disorder. However, girls between the ages of 17 and 19 were more than twice as likely as boys to have a disorder.

Young Women

Compared with any other demographic group, rates of emotional mental disorders and self-harm were reported to be the highest in young women aged 17 to 19, as presented in the NHS survey. Over half (52.7%) of these girls reported to have self-harmed or had attempted to commit suicide. 5.6% of the girls identified with Body Dysmorphia (BDD) and 1.6% had an eating disorder.

Associations of Mental Disorders

There are multiple influences that can increase the onset of mental health disorders in children, with one being the functioning of the child’s family. In some cases, however, mental health disorders may be the cause of problems within families, which therefore forms a vicious cycle. A child’s mental health can also be affected by their parent’s mental health, the child’s support network, how much they participate in their social surrounding and adverse life events (e.g. Parental separation and/or financial struggles at home).

Other factors that can influence a child’s mental health is their physical well-being and daily social media use. Children aged 11 to 19 with a mental disorder were 10% more likely to use social media daily compared to children of the same age without a disorder. A growing problem linked to social media is the impact it has on young people’s self-esteem, as they are constantly comparing themselves to the perfect picture and consequently thinking less of their own lives.

Contact

This survey showed that 1 in 4 children (24.1%) with a disorder had no professional or informal support. This support is critical and can prove to be life-saving in some cases. It is important to acknowledge that regardless of what their age is, we should all be thinking about improving and supporting the mental health of children and young people and raising awareness of this issue.

If you need any help or information regarding child mental health, please phone or visit any of the numbers or sites down below.

NHS Mental Health Helplines

Written by Sabrina K Bolia (Future Genetics Research Scientist)

NHS Long Term Plan – An Alternative to Hospitals

Hospital Admissions – are they necessary?

The NHS has reported that presently, around 2500 hospital beds are unnecessarily occupied by patients who are well and fit enough to be discharged but choose to stay due to the unavailability or delay of social care and support in their homes or communities. Going to the hospital is usually the only option for some.

A New Approach

My name is Sabrina and I am a Research Scientist at Future Genetics. On the 21st of November, Theresa May made a public announcement explaining that more NHS patients will be cared for and supported in their own homes and local communities. Subsequently, this will lessen unnecessary hospital stays and admissions and allow people to receive treatment specific to them, closer to home.

Budget Boost

In addition to the existing budget for primary and community healthcare, the prime minister has set out a major investment boost in these services; worth £3.5 billion a year in real terms by 2023/4, as part of the NHS Long Term Plan. This will go towards building community-based rapid response teams; consisting of doctors, nurses and physiotherapist who will be able to give urgent care and support to patients as well as emergency treatment, preventing the need to go to hospital.

The NHS Long Term Plan 

The NHS Long Term Plan will also help to provide more dedicated support to older people in care homes, as most of the time hospital admissions from care homes are avoidable. For some, especially older people, needlessly staying in a hospital bed for extended periods of time could be detrimental to their health. The longer they stay in bed, the faster their muscles waste, which not only risks their health but also their independence.

Personalised Healthcare 

This plan would allow patients to get the care they specifically need in order to stay healthy and help them to stay independent for longer. It helps not only the patients, but also lessens the burden on the NHS. In her announcement, Theresa May mentioned that ‘the longer a patient stays in hospital, the more it costs the NHS and the more pressure is put on the hard-working staff’. With the pressure the NHS is facing, in most cases, the best they can offer is a standard ‘one size fits all’ approach, which may not prove to be effective in some groups of patients and so time, money and resources get wasted. This new focus on primary and community healthcare, can allow for a more tailored approach specific to the needs of the individual. 

Delays

Delays are also a huge problem which are caused as a result of unnecessary hospital admission and stays. This can be delays in waiting times, delays for other patients, delays in routine operations and delays in transferring care between the NHS and social care services. The NHS Long Term Plan will help to aid patients in leaving sooner or even help to avoid them being admitted into hospital to begin with. Relieving this pressure on the NHS, could essentially free up to 2000-3000 beds.

The Future of the NHS 

The extra time, money and resources saved could also be used to focus on preventative measures and cures, instead of management and control, in addition to more personalised treatment. This could be a big step for the NHS, but first the way in which primary and community healthcare work together must change. 

Written by Sabrina K Bolia (Future Genetics Research Scientist)

Mental Health statistics: time to help

Mental illnesses are continuously affecting individuals and families. There are a wide range of mental illnesses that fall into different sub categories. Examples of mental illnesses include Depression, anxiety, Bipolar and Schizophrenia.

25% of young women suffer from a mental illness

Everyday more and more people are diagnosed with a mental illness especially women. Mental illnesses are also becoming more frequent in the younger population. A recent study conducted in 2017 by the NHS and involved more than 9,000 individuals. The results of this study were that 1 in 4 Young women will develop a mental illness and a total of 23.9% reported having a disorder.

More needs to be done around the topic of mental illnesses due to how common they are amongst the whole population. Mental illnesses are most common in young females. I believe that more needs to be done around the topic of mental illnesses due to how common they are amongst the whole population. As they are most common in young females I hope I will be able to help other young females who are suffering from a mental illness by contributing to creating awareness around this issue.

Poor Mental Health and triggers

There are many factors which may contribute to the development of a mental Illness in young females such as exam stress, which a large proportion of teenagers will have to face. Body image is also a significant factor. This factor is enhanced by social media which constantly promotes an idealistic image, in addition social media also causes a constant comparison against other girls. However, it is debatable whether or not social media can be solely blamed despite being a factor. Social media is extremely time consuming with nearly one third of children spending at least four hours on these apps. Those who did have a mental health problem were two to three times less likely to spend at least 4 hours on social media which shows it does have a negative impact. The ways it appears to have negative impact is by the number of likes, comparison and cyber-bullying as well. Despite this social media cannot be blamed as the only culprit. As sometimes social media can be used to support an individual who is suffering from a mental illness.

Affected populations & support frameworks

These factors are not only specific to females but males as well, especially the younger population, as 1 in 9 children aged between 5-15 are reported to have a disorder. This figure has been rising over the years as it now stands at 11.2% in comparison to 9.7% in 1999. Figures are constantly rising but not all young people are receiving the help and support they need. This is shown by how nearly a third of young individuals who were referred to community services got turned away. Even those who received help had to wait an alarming average time period of 2 months. 32% were waiting for treatment at the end of the year and 15% had to wait over 6 weeks to even be seen. This needs to change, young, at risk and vulnerable children should not have to wait these time periods to receive treatment or to be seen. 

Management of Arthritis using Biosimilar Molecules – an NHS perspective

Arthritis

Arthritis is an illness which affects numerous people and it results in the inflammation of the joints. It can affect one or multiple joints. There are several different forms of arthritis. Approximately 350 million people have Arthritis worldwide, with a total of 10 million of these people are living in the United Kingdom. This illness is treated by the use of a number of different drugs including a drug called Adalimumab. A protein called tumour necrosis factor (TNF) is produced by the immune system naturally. However, in arthritis, the inflammation is caused by a protein called tumour necrosis factor (TNF) being overproduced.

 

Adalimumab 

Adalimumab is a monoclonal antibody that acts as a TNF blocker. It it works by binding to the TNF molecules. The action of binding then prevents the molecules of TNF attaching to the body’s healthy cells. This then reduces inflammation of the joints.

 

My name is Lucy Field and I am a research Scientist at Future Genetics. I have just read an article that focuses on the development of a new drug which treats Arthritis.

 

Biosimilars

The new drug is a biosimilar version of Adalimumab. The development of this new drug has a positives impact on the NHS and their budget. The reasoning for this is because Adalimumab was a medicine that Hospitals spend nearly £400 million a year on making it a relatively expensive medicine. The new biosimilar version will only cost a quarter of this amount allowing the NHS to save up to £300 million a year by 2021. This outstanding cut from the national annual medicines bill is the biggest NHS saving from a single drug negotiation.

 

NHS Cost Savings

The money from this saving could be used to employ 11,700 more community nurses or 19,800 more breast cancer treatments for patients which could potentially save the lives of thousands of women. This highlights the importance of biosimilar drugs and how a smarter approach to biosimilar drugs across Europe gives patients and taxpayers a better deal.

The saving is due to negotiations with 5 new drug companies who will manufacture bio-similar versions of the dug. These companies are Amgen, Biogen, Mylan/Fujifilm Kyowa Kirin, Sandoz, and AbbVie. This comes after the exclusive patent for Adalimumab (Humira) expired. From December onwards, the new biosimilar versions of the drug from these new companies should be available.

According to the NHS 9 out of 10 new patients should be started on the best value medicine 3 months after the launch of the biosimilar medicine.

Women and Neurological Diseases

Women and Neurological Diseases

Overview

Neurological diseases are among the leading causes of mortality and disabilities in the elderly population. Parkinsonism, strokes and Dementia come under the umbrella term of Neurological diseases. These neurological diseases have a detrimental effect on not only the patient but their family and caregivers. They are also known to show substantial co-occurrence, therefore an individual with Dementia has an increased risk of stroke.

The study 

My name is Lucy Field and I am research Scientist at Future Genetics. I have recently read an article which was published by University medical centre in Rotterdam which focuses on Neurological diseases. They conducted a study; the objective of this study was to ‘quantify the burden of common neurological disease in older adults in terms of lifetime risks such as co-occurrence and preventive potential. In this study the health of 12,102 people was monitored over a 26-year period in the years 1990 to 2016. The long duration of the study allows clear identification of co-occurrence of a disease and allows a large sample size giving more reliable data and conclusions

Study conclusion 

The  overall conclusion of this research study was that one in two women and one in three men will develop a Neurological disease in their lifetime. This shows it is more common in women than men, throughout the study data on women was compared with men. The study mainly focuses on age, as all of the individuals involved were above the age of 45. There was evidence to show women are more likely to develop a neurological disease. Not only as a female but a female scientist I believe it is important to raise awareness. Through this article I hope to educate more women about the risk of these common disease allowing us to further educate more women.

 Study Findings

In the study Dementia was seen to be the most common disease with a total of 1489 individual’s being diagnosed, then 1,285 suffered from a stroke. Ischemic strokes were more common at 64.7% and 9.8% had a hemorrhagic stroke. Parkinsonism was the least common neurological disease with 263 individuals’ being diagnosed. A lot of individual’s are only diagnosed with one of the diseases in their lifespan. However, at the age of 45 there was a substantial risk of being diagnosed with multiple diseases. A total of 438 individuals were diagnosed with multiple diseases. Following the trend of more women being affected by one neurological disease, more women were diagnosed with multiple diseases a total of 4% Versus 3% of men. Women were also almost twice as likely to be diagnosed with both stroke and dementia. These high figures show the importance of the need for better prevention strategies.

Neurological disease versus Other common diseases

Neurological diseases get under investigated in comparison to common diseases such as cancer and heart disease. This is because Cancer and Heart disease commonly affect middle aged individual and and neurological diseases normally have a later onset. According to this study, this should not be the case as the lifetime risk of developing Breast cancer in 1 in 8 compared to 1 in 2 developing a neurological disease. The same principle applies for heart disease which affects 1 in 4 people. Those who had been diagnosed with one of the neurological diseases had a higher prevalence of high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and an abnormal heart rhythm.

Importance of Preventative interventions

These findings clearly display the importance of preventative interventions which will delay the onset. It has been estimated that if the onset of the diseases is delayed by 1 to 3 years, the remaining risk of developing would be reduced by 20% in 45-year olds and 50% in those older than 85. This huge reduction in both age categories, this demonstrates the importance of the development of a treatment to delay the onset and to maintain a healthy brain. This is one of Future genetics aims.

Licher SDarweesh SKLWolters FJ, et al
Lifetime risk of common neurological diseases in the elderly population

Better Science through Better Data

Better Science through Better Data

Data

Data, to some, can be overwhelming to comprehend. With the prospect of data sharing and ensuring teams have the right people and support, data can lead to great changes and improvements in a number of different fields, across a wide scale of investigational areas.

#scidata18

My name is Sabrina and I am a Research Scientist at Future Genetics. On the 14th of November, Springer Nature held the ‘Better Science through Better Data’ event in London at the Natural History Museum. The event consisted of a series of thought-provoking lightning talks as well as an international line-up of keynote speakers. The main theme of the event was the role and impact data has and can have on the future of science and research.

Data Sharing

The advantages data sharing could have in the world of science are endless. Not only will that particular professional gain scientific credit amongst a huge audience, but they are also giving something back to the science community, as it could mean new approaches to problems, improvements upon identification of diseases (which in turn could improve the effectiveness of treatments).

It could also allow reporting and acknowledgement of novel bio markers and in some cases, adapting the data to accommodate an entirely different investigational study. Data can also be used to build on ideas and methods, as well as open doors to new collaborations and analysis.

Barriers

The question arises of how data sharing can affect the patients or subjects from whom data is acquired from. There is uncertainty around the privacy of patient information and the risk of data being traceable and identifiable. As a Scientist, patient confidentiality and privacy should be a primary concern, as part of Good Clinical and Good Ethical Practice.

Compromising patient privacy and trust is non-negotiable, regardless of the potential benefits data sharing may have. This is just one of the many considerations that must be taken into account before exposing data.

The Right People with the Right Skills

Presently, the requirements for sufficient data management are often unmet and various surveys have shown this is because of a lack of knowledge or support, rather than a lack of technology. Therefore, to tackle this problem, some teams have appointed a data steward at every facility of theirs, who can offer this support and assist the team in various ways, including; training, advice, tools and archiving. The Data Steward is more equipped at handling and managing data, whilst being realistic about making incremental changes which in turn will ensure requirements are met.

Conclusion 

The use of data is so widespread, ranging from education, to research, to guidance. So although it may seem bothersome, it is clear that Better Data could in fact lead to Better Science.

 

Future Genetics will be at the Lab Innovations Conference

Future Genetics will be at the Lab Innovations Conference, 2018

 

Future Genetics is committed to high quality and innovative genomics research.

Our Research Scientist, Lucy Field, will be attending the Lab Innovations 2018 Conference at the NEC this week (31 Oct). She looks forward to meeting you all and learning from all the exciting exhibitions which will be showcased.

 

Future Genetics will be looking for new and innovative technologies that can help us accelerate our research in genomics, medicine and patient healthcare.

Looking forward to the conference

 

 

NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme – The Healthier You

NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme – The Healthier You

Introduction 

Hi, my name is Penny, and I am a research scientist at Future Genetics.

I attended the annual National Association of Primary Care Conference that was held at the NEC earlier this month.

It was a great event which encouraged discussion and debate around management of patients in a primary care setting.

In this article, I am going to summarise one of the presentations that particularly stood out for me. I think its message is well-aligned to the ethos and principle of Future Genetics, and this is EMPOWERMENT. One of the ways for people and individuals to become empowered is to understand the drivers and risk factors associated with diseases such as Diabetes.

Dr Chirag Bakhai gave a presentation titled NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme – The Healthier You. This succulently highlighted the alarming statistics associated with disease.

In my article, I have summarised the key points, and hope this will EMPOWER the listener or reader to be proactive and take actions to avoid poor outcomes.

Diabetes – Background Information

Type 2 diabetes more likely develops in males, people over 40, certain ethnicities, those with high blood pressure and sedentary lifestyles. However, 80% of cases are linked to obesity. Type 2 diabetes can lead to blindness, kidney disease, amputations, heart disease, strokes and early death.

Prevalence of diabetes has doubled in the last 10 years, costing the NHS billions. The Healthier You programme was created to prevent diabetes development from prediabetes; a state of hyperglycaemia. Prediabetes implies inevitability of development; however, lifestyle intervention can slow or even halt the progression.

The Healthier You Programme 

The programme is available to most except children, pregnant women or diabetics. It is a free, 16 session treatment plan which takes 9-12 months to complete, it’s tailored to the individual involving psychological training to make lasting behaviour changes to increase levels of physical activities, improve nutrition and maintain a healthy weight.

It’s available throughout the whole of the UK and they’re on target to have 100k participants by 2020 as 54% of referrals attend the meetings. 45% are under 65, allowing for early assessment and intervention but more attend if they’re past working age. There are 44% male participants, a higher proportion than in commercial weight loss programmes and those who attend more than 60% sessions, lose on average 3.3kg, exceeding to predicted 2.5kg weight loss.

Limitations

The need for face-to-face interaction at meetings is a restriction for people with modern-day busy schedules and so digital meetings may be offered instead, but these have been found to be less effective. To broaden their client capacity, more funding is required, however the programme is predicted to save the NHS money in the long run.

The Battle Continues…

As beneficial as this programme is, more is required to tackle type 2 diabetes, by public health working with the food industry to minimise processed foods, refined carbs, excessive calories and portion sizes. Tackling obesity in schools will also significantly reduce the risk of prediabetes developing in the first place.

At Future Genetics, we are committed to trying to make a real difference to people and patients with respect to health outcomes. One of our principle research programmes is around diabetes and finding genetic markers that can meaningfully improve health outcomes for people.

Thank you or watching and for some of you, reading.

Pictured: Penny Codd (Future Genetics Research Scientist) at the NAPC Annual Conference 2018