A Video of Future Genetics celebrating its 2019 Successes and Looking forward to 2020:
We have had a great 2019 and are really looking forward to 2020 as we believe this will be even bigger and better in terms of our focus on the discovery and development of disease biomarkers in areas of unmet clinical need.
We as a society need a healthcare system that is able to provide the best and most appropriate treatments to different patients, and where individuals and families are sufficiently empowered to make life-style decisions that are based on their personal genetic-makeup. Future Genetics is committed to developing the means to help society live better and healthier lives.
2019 was a truly a land-mark year as Future Genetics launched its innovative Clinical Research programme, which is based on a Research Database called INVOLVE.
The INVOLVE research database is a structured collection of biological and clinical data stored for potential research purposes, which allows analysis of data to answer research questions for multiple projects, for example, EMPOWER-2, EMPOWER-3 etc.
This research database aims to build data and information that can be used in research studies to help us better understand how the body works, develop ways of preventing illnesses, and find new ways to treat people when they are ill.
The INVOLVE research database has the ultimate aim of laying the foundations that may lead to improved healthcare for the broad range of people that make up our society.
In 2019, we have been busy working with our NHS collaborators with respect to INVOLVE. We would like to sincerely thank all the patients and our NHS partners for their contributions.
2019 has been a great year for us where we have been carrying out detailed analysis and reviews of health inequality, as well as building strong working relationships with our NHS partners. We have been active in communicating the need for better health for all, and have engaged stakeholders at different level.
Highlights include our CEO and Medical Director being invited to speak at the Annual Festival of Genomics Event held in London, including a Speaker Event tilted Pharma and the Growing Need for Patient Genetic Diversity, that addressed the challenge faced by our society and the NHS around health inequality and how Future Genetics is committed to this issue. Future Genetics participated in a Live-Lounge discussion with Vivienne Parry (OBE) who is the Head of Engagement at Genomics England. This was a lively discussion which put the focus firmly on the equality and the patient. Future Genetics also took part in a Special Invitation Event “Enabling and Emerging Technologies in Drug Development”. This round-table meeting was attended by several multi-national pharmaceutical companies and specialist research organisations where Dr Kamran emphasised the need consider corporate social responsibilities to better facilitate better representation of under-represented populations in drug development programmes so that new medicines can more reliably serve the wider-populations.
Another key event was the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in Science and Health or EDIS symposium held at the Francis Crick Institute in London. Here our CEO gave a presentation on Diversity in Clinical Trials and panel discussion with Dr Anya Harry, Global Lead for Clinical Trial Diversity from GSK and Peju Oshisanya who is the Clinical Development Operations Leader at Benevolent AI.
In addition to speaking and participating in scientific congresses and symposia, Future Genetics understands that addressing health inequality requires lots of people from different backgrounds and generations to grasp and better appreciate the health outcomes challenges faced by UK patients across.
One of the ways Future Genetics has addressed this in 2019 is to engage and develop young persons by providing mentoring and guidance in different forms, such as attending speaker events and collaborating with universities. Some of the 2019 events include the:
- University of Birmingham 13th Annual Research Poster Conference, The event hosted over 100 research abstracts that summarises research activities carried out by the postgraduate students across multiple disciplines ranging from arts, and law, environmental, dental, physical, and life sciences. The event showcased the high quality of research carried out at the institution which was then assessed by external specialists at the event. Future Genetics was privileged to have been invited by the event organisers to act as judges at the event.
- Future Genetics also was invited to sit on the University of Birmingham Panel Session. This engagement is in keeping with the ethos of empowerment at Future Genetics. The panel discussion was held at the University of Birmingham and titled ‘Insights into Science: in and out of Labs’. The purpose was to provide 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 consisted of 6 members, that included 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 hoped to provide insights into his academic, clinical trials and research and development experiences.
- Our Clinical Research Lead, Kash Arfan, was invited to speak and join a panel discussion for an event titled “Healthcare Aspirations Event” aimed at secondary school students aged 14-17 who are looking to go into healthcare related careers so we leapt at the opportunity to show them what a career in genetics could be like. For some students this was the first they’d heard of clinical trials and their relationship to healthcare and health outcomes. Many had arrived at the event with the aspirations of a career in primary care but came to realise that perhaps they’d like the more mixed or lab-based careers that companies such as Future Genetics offer. Students from all across Birmingham came to the city centre university to discuss their futures. Staff from many healthcare professions as well as from Life Sciences courses at several Birmingham-based universities, congregated in Aston University’s Great Hall and we loved sharing our work with people in our field as well as answering the various questions the students had. We enjoyed answering a wide range of questions and having discussions on science, clinical trials, what students thought of health inequality and even how the budding scientists could follow a career in genetics and clinical research.
We also experienced a great collaboration with the University of Birmingham in the form of the University’s Postgraduate 2019 Summer School held at our research facility. This was an exciting process where PhD researchers were able to demonstrate their skills in ingenuity and innovation. Six multi-disciplinary teams comprising of 6 highly talented post-graduates within each team. The week-long course began with introductions to the project and a welcome by university staff, followed by group exercises on topics such as working in an effective team. The challenge was set by Future Genetics and focused on developing innovative and realistic approaches to help reduce health inequality in the UK. Participants took a tour the research facility where our scientific research takes place. The rest of the week consisted of ‘team time’ where participants developed their exciting and innovative business plans. The outcome from this Summer School was fantastic because it highlighted that we can help people and society in many ways!
In addition to the above, Future Genetics is committed to training the next generation. In 2019 we took on Sixth Form/College A-level students who wanted to carry out their EPQ projects with us. In addition, we had some great Summer Student students and 1-year Degree Sandwich Students!
Moving onto 2020, as I said earlier, our goal is to make 2020 even bigger and better than 2019!
2019 successes included the launch of the INVOLVE Research Database. 2020 will be marked by the launch of the EMPOWER-1 Clinical Research Study, which is the largest registered Clinical Study of its kind. To read more on this, please feel free to visit the clinical trials dot Gov website and type in “EMPOWER-1”.
The formal title of the study is: EMPOWER-1: A Multi-site Clinical Cohort Research Study to Reduce Health Inequality.
Here is a brief summary of the study:
Health inequality and genetic disparity are a significant issue in the United Kingdom (UK).
This study focuses on diseases that are associated with significant morbidity and mortality in the UK, and specifically examines the extent and basis of treatment failure in different patient populations.
The vast majority of drug registration clinical trials have under-representation of ethnic minority populations. In addition, the wider Caucasian populations have reasonably different clinical characteristics to the population that participated in the drug licencing clinical trials. A consequence of this is that drugs are licensed for use in real-world general patient populations where the clinical trial results are simply not statistically significant to specifically demonstrate efficacy or safety in populations that were either absent or under-represented in the drug registration clinical trials. When these facts are considered alongside data that supports significant under-reporting of adverse events in the real-world setting within the UK (and globally, e.g. the USA and Europe), it highlights that pharmacovigilance systems are unable to capture drug effectiveness and safety data in a manner that can reasonably assure appropriate prescribing in the wider patient populations.
This large real-world research study aims to identify whether commonly prescribed drugs are effective in treating illnesses that cause significant poor health and death in the different patient populations that represent the UK.
The goal of this study is to generate large quantitative data-sets that may inform clinical practice to reduce the existing health inequality and genetic disparity in the UK.
The study will look at these key disease areas:
- Heart Disease
- Heart Failure
- Diabetes Mellitus
- Blood Pressure or Hypertension
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or COPD
- Atrial Fibrillation
- Cardiovascular Diseases
- Chronic Kidney Diseases
- Mental Health Disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar
- Peripheral Arterial Disease
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
In addition, Future Genetics will continue to engage by sharing data and information at congresses and symposia, support patients, and educate and train our next generation.
We hope to continue or endeavours to improve health outcomes for the broad spectrum of patients in the UK and hope to share our successes with you.