RARESummit 2019 – Patients as partners

RARESummit 2019 – Patients as partners

Wellcome Genome Campus hosts CRDN RARESummit 19

PASSION LED US HERE 
A crisp, bright September morning in the calming woodland setting of the Wellcome Genome Campus, Cambridge welcomed a chattering, excited collection of rare disease stakeholders from across the UK and Europe for the long anticipated CRDN RAREsummit19. 

For the team at CRDN, September 23rd was the culmination of a busy year of planning and creating,  a process  driven by a passion to move towards a world  where rare disease is at the top of the mainstream agenda and patient are involved as partners in the many design and development processes which impact on their lives. RARESummit19 brought together patients, patient advocacy groups, researchers, health care professionals, tech and pharmaceutical industries,  all leading the way in pioneering partnerships to accelerate change. This year’s venue, the prestigious Wellcome Genome Campus, was a move from our central Cambridge location and a fitting new venue for RARESummit19. We needed more space to cater for a growing number of  attendees – a 58% increase on our inaugural summit of 2015, a brighter and more welcoming exhibition space to showcase more organisations and companies and better accessibility features which sometimes only a modern setting can bring. Home to some of the world’s foremost institutes and organisations in genomics and computational biology, WGC is committed to delivering life-changing science and we felt was the perfect location to make progress in rare diseases.  

Delegate feedback on this change in location was encouragingly positive “Absolutely superb venue and facilities, plenty of room for exhibitors, delegate interaction in breakout sessions and of course, first class auditorium and AV – so important to clearly hear and see every speaker”. But of course, that doesn’t mean we’ll rest on our laurels and we appreciate the feedback about tweaks we could make within the venue to improve things.

We welcomed a number of returning exhibitors and some who were exhibiting for the very first time. The quality and wealth of information, education and support was outstanding – a real testament to the work being done day in and day out by  passionate stakeholders within the rare disease field.

It’s always a pleasure to see representatives from all stakeholder groups in attendance. Diversity in attendance is vital to the success of collaborative and open discussions. The buzz over lunch was testament to the great networking taking place and audience participation was at its highest ever via our event technology Glisser. 199 people logged in to download slides on their devices, ask questions and respond to polls. An astonishing 155 questions came flooding in and 1227 votes were placed during polls.  Thank you to all who attended and contributed so meaningfully in so many different ways. 

MORNING SESSION: Patients as partners in searching for treatments and cures 

Patient engagement and partnership is crucial in the development of drugs and products for the bio- pharmaceutical industry. There has been a move towards a more patient-centric approach by industry over the last few years to varying degrees of success. During the morning session we wanted to shine a light on those relationships that were leading the way and discuss what the future might hold for rare disease patient collaborations.

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Dr. Jonathan Milner
© CRDN 2019

Opening remarks

 Dr. Jonathan Milner, CRDN Trustee, Abcam founder and biotech entrepreneur opened the summit and set the scene for an “exciting day ahead”. Dr Milner praised the wealth of expertise that had come together in one room and stated, “it is the motivation of making a difference to patients which unites us.” With the enormous rate of scientific progress and patients taking their health care into their own hands it is an exciting time for genomics and Dr Milner impressed on the audience that for CRDN, an important part of their work was to incubate networks to allow for meaningful collaborations.  

Keynote Speaker

Alastair Kent, OBE presented  ‘From the margins to the centre: A personal reflection on progress for rare disease patients and families’, walking us through the history of scientific progress to demonstrate the speed at which science has advanced rapidly over the last 25 years. He highlighted the 100,00-genome project as a “research milestone” and provided this poignant quote by William Harvey to demonstrate how “rare diseases provide key insights into how our bodies work.”

“Nature is nowhere accustomed more openly to display her secret mysteries than in cases where she shows traces of her workings apart from the beaten path; nor is there any way to advance the proper practice of medicine than to give our minds to the discovery of the usual law of nature, by the careful investigation of cases of rarer forms of disease.”  William Harvey.

Rare diseases provide key insights into the way our bodies work.

William Harvey

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Alastair Kent
© CRDN 2019

Panel Discussion
No patient left behind, patient group partnering

Panellists representing a wide range of rare disease patient advocacy groups provided valuable insight into disruptive innovations and the importance of including patient voices at every step of the drug development journey.

Dr Ana Mingorance (CDO Lou Lou Foundation) gave a brilliant visual, accessible whistle-stop tour of the drug development process emphasising the importance of patient groups in this. Charity leaders then shared their successes in working within this process, and the barriers they faced. Carina Thurgood (Co-Founder of Maddi Foundation) battled against the isolation experienced when her daughter was diagnosed with SPG15 and was the only known case in the UK. She has since partnered with a research team at Sheffield Institute for Translational Neuroscience and raised thousands through public appeals and TV appearances to fund their research into a gene therapy. Next steps are to develop a natural history study.

 Allison Watson (Co-Founder of Ring 20 Research) described the challenges she faced finding a large enough cohort when working with an ultra-rare disease. She emphasised the importance of becoming a team player and how the voice of Ring20 has been raised by being involved in the ERN for rare epilepsies and being an EPAG rep. Tanya Collin-Histed (CEO at International Gaucher Disease) inspired the audience with their work ensuring that no Gaucher patient is left behind through their international efforts to support patients across the globe, their international registry development and willingness to embrace wearable health tech to gather much needed data.

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Dr. Paul Wicks
© CRDN 2019
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Dr. Nick Sireau
© CRDN 2019

Moderated Discussion
Disruptive technologies  

Dr Tim Gulliams (Founder of CRDN, and CEO & Co-Founder of Healx), Dr Andy Richards (Digital Health Entrepreneur), Dr David Brown (Co-Founder and Chief Scientific Officer at Healx), Elin Haf Davies (CEO at Aparito) and Dr Pete Chan (Head of Research at Raremark).

Here the importance of technology was discussed including how the internet allows patients and science to connect more readily than before and how Google has been an agent for empowerment. Their discussion covered wearable technologies and their role in collecting “real time” real world data and how it is essential to listen to patients and families in order to document real world evidence beyond the consultation room. The panel discussed the pros of using technology to do the “heavy lifting” in data sorting to relieve the current burden from Doctors and nurses and improve outcomes for the rare community.

The Rare Summit was once again a great opportunity for patients, industry, academia and clinicians to come together to hammer out new ways of developing treatments for rare diseases.

Dr. Nick Sireau

CEO and Chair, AKU Society

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Elin Haf Davies
© CRDN 2019

The Google and Genomics are two technologies that have changed the understanding and opportunities available to people living with rare diseases. Moving forward with rapidly changing innovation we need to make sure that just because “we can” doesn’t mean “we should”. Ethics and patients, and not technology should drive what and how we do next.

Elin Haf Davies

Founder and CEO, Aparito

Moderated Discussion
Disruptive Innovation and Transformation – Patients at the heart of the drug development process

Dr Joanna Segieth (Takeda), Professor Chas Bountra (Uni of Oxford), Steve Rees AstraZeneca), Dr Daniel O’Connor (MHRA), Neil Dugdale (SOBI), Thomas Ogorka ( Orphan Reach) and Dr Nick Sireau (AKU Society).

This was a lively debate on the importance of working with patient groups and of open and transparent collaboration and working practises within the pharma industry.

Questions flooded in from delegates for this talk with the most upvoted question being “How do we get regulators, researchers and industry to work together to agree standardised endpoints that can be measured remotely?” followed closely by “Having worked bridging pharma with patients for 25 years, I’ve never seen Pharma behave poorly towards patients but I’ve seen ‘big’ patient orgs reject working with Pharma. Can we eradicate Pharma as the ‘panto villain’ and rewrite the collaboration story?” and “Is it only about the drugs? What about life science companies ‘developing’ health services for people in parallel to drug development?” If you were at the summit, the film of this discussion will be available to you soon to re-listen to the debate and we’ll be circulating some of the many unanswered questions for people to continue the discussion and share ideas.

Through partnerships, we hope that together we can build a better future with medicines that make a real difference to patients.

Dr. Joanna Segieth

Biosynetix Ltd, Rare Drug Development Solutions

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Dr. Joanna Segieth
© CRDN 2019

AFTERNOON SESSION: Patients as co-designers of technology and care 

Shining a light on some of the successful patient partnerships and collaborations that are making improvements in technology design, personalised care and clinical settings which improve accessibility, symptoms and lived experiences.

Short Talk
Co-creating genetic reports that are understood by
non-specialists

Dr Gabriel Recchia (Research Associate, Winton Centre for Risk and Evidence Communication, University of Cambridge), Dr Gemma Chandratillake (E & T Lead at the East Midlands & East of England Genomic Laboratory Hub) and Menna Hawkins (Polyposis Nurse Specialist).

This team have been working on a collaborative project with patients to redesign genetic reports and the way they are presented to patients to ensure they are patient friendly, thus allowing greater understanding from patients and families of their own genetic circumstances. 

Gemma asked the audience how useful a genetic report would be to them as a patient – 94% answered reasonably to very important showing a clear need for a more accessible design.

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Menna Hawkins
© CRDN 2019
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RARESummit demonstrated the power of patient-centred approaches [in technology, service-design, research, and drug development] to move things forward for those affected by rare disease

Dr Gemma Chandratillake

Education and Training Lead, East Midlands & East of England Genomic Laboratory Hub

CRDN Trustees, Dr. Sarah Leiter & Dr. Gemma Chandratillake
© CRDN 2019

Short Talk 
Patients as partners in assistive technology design – Collaboration and customisation is the key to success

Dr. Cecily Morrison and Dr. Sarah Leiter presented the result of their collaboration to our audience. Using assistive technology, they have created a new educational computer programming system for tactile learners. It was fascinating to see how Sarah’s lived experience of visual impairment gave the researchers a unique insight into the true needs of end users with low vision. 100% of the audience responded to the live poll asking if they felt end users should be included in the design yet only 34% had actually had that opportunity. Of those who had, 85% had a good experience. Cecily shared the inclusive design principles they use at Microsoft Research – recognise exclusion, solve for one,  extend to many, learn from diversity. 

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Laurence Wollard
© CRDN 2019

Short Talk
“Peer-Led to get ahead!” – Developing an education and self-management programme for and with young people affected by haemophilia

Laurence Woollard delivered a passionate presentation of his journey with haemophilia highlighting the lack of support when transitioning between paediatric and adult services and the challenge of becoming responsible for your own health care at a time of significant physical change. Laurence shared his belief that early intervention with peer led programmes could be the key to tackling this growing problem.

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Baroness Nicola Blackwood at RAREsummit19
© CRDN 2019

What matters to you?
What matters most?
We need a national debate on rare diseases

We were delighted to welcome the UK’s Minister for Innovation in Health, Baroness Nicola Blackwood, a passionate are disease advocate and the minister leading on the ‘National Conversation’ which will gather the views of all stakeholders to set the priorities for the UK Rare Disease Strategy 2020 framework. The Minister delivered a powerful and heartfelt talk drawing on her on experience of the diagnostic odyssey before being diagnosed with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. Baroness Blackwood introduced the Hackathon Challenge, a cross sector team activity brainstorming their priorities for the new Strategy, inviting people to share their views. 

 

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Hackathon teams at RAREsummit19
© CRDN 2019

the RAREsummit hackathon

The final session of the day saw cross-sector teams thrash out ideas on problem areas in rare disease such as diagnosis, care coordination, research acceleration, early access and reimbursement and patient empowerment. Discussions were vibrant ad filled with knowledge and passion  culminating in five winning ideas being pitched to the whole audience. We were impressed with the far-reaching ideas the teams came up with and have gathered all of these, alongside all other suggestions made,  and will be presenting these as a report to the Minster in early December. Watch this space. … . 

 

Networking and Takeaways

As with all our events we see huge value in networking and we hope attendees found plenty of opportunities to  build on  established relationships and that doors were opened to new connections through this event. The rare disease community is a powerful one  and CRDN really felt this during this event.
While it by no means dominated the event the inevitable topic of Brexit rose its head and it was clear to see that this is already impacting our health service with shortages in health care professionals and a reduction in overseas talent both in health care and research applying to work here in the UK. Open collaboration was the call from the day and something patient groups want to see improve across industries.

A huge thank you to all who attended and to our sponsors, speaker and exhibitors! 

CRDN teams up with Findacure to bring a sip of RARE to Pint of Science Festival

CRDN teams up with Findacure to bring a sip of RARE to Pint of Science Festival

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For the second consecutive year, CRDN is hosting 2 rare disease themed evenings for the Pint of Science Festival. We’ll be based at the Panton Arms in Cambridge on 21 and 22 May inspiring the general public to be curious about the science and research taking place locally into rare diseases.

We’re excited to have teamed up with local rare disease charity Findacure to bring you a great selection of speakers undertaking research, delivering education programmes and raising awareness about rare disease.

“Effectively communicating science and linking it to the ‘real world’ has important benefits for both scientists and society” POS

Our speakers will explore the potential for rare disease research to help us better understand and treat more common diseases and learn about the plans for rolling out the technology and lessons learned from the 100,000 Genomes Project into the NHS.

Join in our pub quiz to win a POS pint glass and test out your own pain threshold…!

The scientists have paired with local artists who’ve created an artistic interpretation of the science. Artworks will be presented by the artist following each talk and be on display at the Creative Reactions event on 24 & 25 May at St.Barnabas Church, Cambridge 

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Your DNA Your Say!

Dr Anna Middleton (Head of Society and Ethics Research, Wellcome Genome Campus)  ‎@Genomethics 
Big Data and DNA now go hand in hand. This is pivotal for exploring the link between genes and disease. The bigger the datasets the better. Most DNA data is ‘de-identified’, i.e. names and addresses have been removed but it will soon be possible to identify a person from their DNA alone. Would this stop you donating your DNA data for research? What harms can come from this? We explore what public across the world have said and how their views are shaping policy.

Solving the Unsolved

Dr Gemma Chandratillake (Course Director, ICE Genomic Medicine programme; Education and Training Lead, East of England Genomic Medicine Centre; Clinical Genomics Specialist, Cambridge Rare Disease Network Trustee)    @GemmaChand 
On 5 Dec 2018 Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced that the 100,000 Genomes Project had reached its goal of sequencing 100,000 whole genomes uncovering new diagnoses and improved treatments for patients with rare inherited diseases and cancer.
This marks the end of a chapter rather than the end of the story and earlier this year a new target was announced for the NHS to sequence one million genomes over the next 5 years. Will delivering genomic medicine in the NHS enable better outcomes for patients and contribute to a wealth of information to drive the treatments of the future?
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Can we turn back the clock on rare premature ageing diseases?

Dr Delphine Larrieu (Group Leader at Cambridge Institute of Medical Research) 
Rare genetic premature ageing syndromes called progeria trigger the appearance of ageing signs in early childhood causing many changes to the body over time, including heart disease, bone changes, hair loss, joint and skin changes, and early death around 14 years old. Unfortunately, there is no current cure and therapies just improve the symptoms. Hear how Delphine’s team is tackling this and suggesting new treatments and how the lab’s work could also open up new perspectives into improving normal age-related pathologies.

Everybody hurts sometimes … or do they?

Dr Mike Nahorski (Cambridge Institute for Medical Research) 
Chronic pain is a debilitating condition that affects 14 million people in England alone. But scientists think the have come a step closer to understanding it – by studying a rare group of people with congenital insensitivity to pain, who feel no pain at all. Cambridge University researchers have identified a faulty gene that seems to switch pain off in some people and it is hoped the discovery could lead to new treatments for those who live with pain every day.

Creative Reactions

Elizabeth Fraser  (Printmaking/graphic design) 
Eri Ikuno (Illustrator) 
Eithne Fisher (Painting/drawing) 
Kate Grant  
(Medicine/resin/acrylic/printmaking) 
As part of the Creative Reactions project, these artists will be presenting their artwork inspired by the research of speakers in this talk series. The artwork will also be on display at our Creative Reactions Exhibition at St Barnabas Church, 24 – 25 May.

2019 Rare Disease Day Cambridge Lecture

2019 Rare Disease Day Cambridge Lecture

Put over 150 passionate and motivated people together to talk about rare disease research and you can expect a fascinating evening. 

That’s just what happened at the recent public evening, hosted by Cambridge Rare Disease Network in collaboration with the NIHR BioResource for Translational Research at Addenbrooke’s Hospital to mark International Rare Disease Day 2019.

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Short research talks were followed by a Q+A panel facilitated by Dr. Gemma ChandratillakeCRDN Trustee (pictured left)

Full agenda and biographies from the day. Click on the links below to view the audio and presentation slides for each talk.

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Welcome Address
Prof. Patrick Chinnery
NIHR BioResource Co-Chair, Head of Department for Clinical Neurosciences, University of Cambridge

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Improving Patient Health in CNO and SAPHO
Dr. Jagtar Singh Nijar
NIHR Clinical Lecturer in Rheumatology, University of Cambridge

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Whole Genome Sequencing for susceptibility to infectious disease
Dr. James Thaventhiran
Consultant Clinical Immunologist, University of Cambridge (slides and audio not available)

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Next Generation Children Project – Rapid Genome Sequencing for critically ill children
Dr. Isabelle Delon  Clinical Scientist, EMEE Genomic Laboratory

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Imaging in the diagnosis of Rare Diseases
Dr. Tomasz Matys
University Lecturer and Honorary Consultant in Radiology, University of Cambridge

RAREfest18 “heartwarming, uplifting, informative”

RAREfest18 “heartwarming, uplifting, informative”

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Heartwarming, uplifting and informative, RAREfest18, the world’s first-ever festival on rare diseases drew huge crowds to the Guildhall over the weekend of November 30 & December 1.

 RAREfest18 was the first of its kind; a rare disease inspired festival, created and delivered by Cambridge Rare Disease Network, bringing passionate and inspirational people together to change the rare disease landscape for the better.

The event set out to raise awareness, share information and dispel some of the myths about rare diseases and the plight of those living with them. Rare diseases affect around 3.5 million people in the UK. Despite this, rare diseases are not consistently diagnosed, treated or supported, effectively and knowledge amongst health care professionals, educators, social care and the public is limited. The need for a powerful emotive programme was identified; speakers, exhibitors and performers at RAREfest had one goal in mind: change the rare disease landscape. Annual summits and events by CRDN have consistently been milestone events in the rare disease community but bringing a rare disease event to an already invested community has a certain security. This time we wanted to tackle the more challenging issue of public perception of rare disease.

RAREfest was to be our most ambitious event to date!

This year’s unique RAREfest event was created for the public, in part due to the disparity between actual facts and public awareness of rare diseases. For example, while research has shown that only 38% of people think rare diseases have no treatment, in reality this figure is 95%. The aim of the festival was to bring about meaningful and positive change in as many ways as possible for the rare disease community – from raising broader awareness and promoting understanding, to providing practical support. Over two free days, RAREfest provided a stimulating mix of science, technology and the arts, with motivational speakers from academia, industry, the media and all importantly, patient advocates.

The educational programme was enriched with interactive exhibits, demos and film, all public-facing, promoting inclusivity to widely raise the profile of rare disease. CRDN created a platform from which the rare disease community itself was in charge of their own narrative with which to educate and engage a public audience.  Read the glittering review from Cambridge independent newspaper here https://www.cambridgeindependent.co.uk/news/rarefest-brings-life-sciences-to-guildhall-9056317/

Friday night launch event

On the evening of 30th November 2018 over 200 attendees listened attentively as Alastair Kent, OBE, former Chairman of CRDN, opened the world’s first rare disease festival with a poignant observation:

“A few years ago, it would not have been possible to have filled a hall like this (Cambridge Guildhall)”

Attendees were subtly educated whilst being entertained during AbbiBrown’s presentation, Growing up with a Galapagos Tortoise: and other funny stories. Abbi, a founding member of CRDN who, by her own admission left Cambridge University with two degrees and wheelchair, explained what life had been like for her growing up with osteogenesis imperfecta (Brittle Bones) relaying stories of her time as cox for her college rowing team.

Adam Pearson, award winning campaigner, actor and presenter and sculptress Dagmar Bennett talked about the process of creating Adam’s life size bust to raise awareness about Neurofibromatosis, a rare genetic disorder that causes tumours to form on nerve tissue, and to champion face equality.

We are bombarded every day by media images of how we should look, for people with disfigurement it can be absolutely paralysing

Adam Pearson

The audience were captivated by an enchanting dance performance from Unique Feet, CRDN’s local community group of 10 children, each with a different rare disease, and the talented classical musician James Risdon who gave a mesmerising recorder performance. James lives with a rare eye disease, Leber’s Congenital Amaurosis, and learns all his repertoire through braille.

The evening ended with an awe-inspiring talk by Michael McGrath who led polar expeditions to both North and South poles to raise awareness of Muscular Dystrophy, a degenerative disease which has led to Michael himself being the proud owner of a technical masterpiece of a power chair to enable him to take on such challenges and be as independent as possible. Michael’s work through The Muscle Help Foundation ensures children affected by muscular dystrophy can experience life changing adventures of their own.

The evening was a resounding success, bringing together a diverse public audience mixed with rare disease advocates to walk in the shoes of those living with rare conditions through humour, dance, music and inspiring presentations. Read the Cambridge Independent news coverage of the event here.

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Saturday’s Roundup

Saturday saw around 800 curious people weaving their way through the Guildhall to engage with all that RAREfest had to offer. Families with small children, teenagers who’d taken part in the CRDN RAREsolutions design competition, local students, health professionals and business representatives alongside a tribe of rare disease patients and advocates from across the UK.

Nine incredible speakers enthralled audiences. Dan Jeffries told the colourful story of life with not one, but two rare diseases, Acromegaly and Wyburn-Mason Syndrome. Rebecca Pender shared a heart-breaking account of her struggle to persuade medical professionals believe her accounts of her daughter’s illness, a rare chromosome deletion and duplication syndrome called 8p. The Cambridge Independent captured the power of Rebecca’s story here. Dr Crystal Ruff, a scientist from Illumina delivered a fascinating talk on changing the future with stem cells, a TED talk she has had thousands of hits on, Prof Anna Middleton from the Wellcome Genome Campus tackled the ethical considerations of ownership of DNA data playing on the topical story of the announcement only 2 days before of the Chinese scientist who had gene-edited twins. Read more about her talk in this newspaper article here.

Film Festival
Over 25 charities and research organisations entered our very first film festival gathering over 3500 upvotes between them and the highest scoring fourteen being shown on a big screen over the Saturday.

Exhibitors
Twenty-two interactive exhibits took over the Guildhall bringing rare disease inspired cool technology, arts and science to the public. With demos of robots and technology, fun science experiments, sculpture exhibits and rare disease charities showcasing some of the amazing work they do, the diverse audience was treated to a packed day of hands on activities to help educate and inspire.

Networking
There were many opportunities throughout both events to network with peers. The post RAREfest VIP reception drew together eighty leaders from science, healthcare, technology, business, charity and philanthropy to network with exhibitors, speakers and the CRDN team. Dame Mary Archer, a fierce advocate for a Cambridge Children’s Hospital, Julian Rayner, Director of the Wellcome Genome Campus and Daniel Zeichner our Cambridge MP attended, to name a few.

So how did we do?
After the dust has settled and we are now and truly well into the count down for RAREsummit we wanted to look back and digest the impact of our very first public facing event. 

 

Here are some stats from RAREfest 2018

RAREfest in Numbers

  • Four new industry partners joined our Companies Forum for biotech, pharmaceutical and related industry partners
  • 25% increase in Twitter followers
  • 8000 people reached via Facebook event
  • 11 newspaper and magazine feature articles
  • 1 TV feature
  • 1 Radio Feature

The event was absolutely fantastic. It was obvious how much hard work had gone into it and gaining the balance between industry and public interest must have been a tough navigation, which was pulled off unbelievably well.

Steve Smith

Head of Rare Diseases & Gene Therapy

Lots of people we’ve spoken to today are passers-by. They’re out doing their Christmas shopping. That’s wonderful because it means the topic is broadening out to the wider community.

Harriet Gridley

Head of business development UK at No Isolation

Healx raise funding to repurpose drugs for rare diseases

Healx raise funding to repurpose drugs for rare diseases

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Congratulations to Cambridge start-up, Healx, co-founded by founder and trustee of CRDN, as it raises $10m to help repurpose drugs for rare diseases.

Forbes and the Telegraph today report that the co-founders of Healx, Tim Guilliams – founder and trustee of CRDN, and British inventor of Viagra – Dr David Brown, have raised funding of $10m for their Cambridge start-up that uses artificial intelligence (AI) technology to find medicines to treat some of the world’s rarest diseases.

The Telegraph states “Dr David Brown, the scientist who developed the blockbuster treatment for erectile dysfunction for Pfizer, is the co-founder of Healx, a UK medical tech startup that uses machine learning to find treatments for 7,000 rare conditions that do not currently have an approved method of treatment”.

 

It goes on to explain why Healx believe that the lengthy traditional drug discovery process isn’t economic for rare diseases and how they hope to accelerate the time to drug discovery and reduce costs through their AI technology driven systems which search for drugs that can be repurposed. 

Dr Brown’s work with Viagra, which was developed originally to treat heart patients, proved that drugs intended to help one condition can sometimes be adapted to treat others. To read the full article click here.

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Medics 4 Rare Diseases Red Flag Survey

Medics 4 Rare Diseases Red Flag Survey

Medics4RareDiseases are excited to announce the launch of their new research project: The M4RD Red Flags Survey.

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The purpose of the survey is to find out what different rare diseases have in common during the time before diagnosis, a period often called ‘the diagnostic odyssey’.

This is a piece of research that M4RD have wanted to do for many years as they have attended conferences listening to similar stories from patients and families irrespective of their specific rare disease. The final survey is the culmination of many hours of discussion and design.

The survey opens on Monday 23rd July and closes at the end of August 2018.

Please get involved and share your views so we can all support Medics4RD in driving change within the medical profession in terms of rare disease diagnosis. It is an online survey that takes 10 minutes to complete and can be accessed via this link: http://bit.ly/M4RDredflags.

If you need to access the survey in any other format or have any issues don’t hesitate to contact info@m4rd.org.

 

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Findacure Cambridge Rare Disease Showcase

Findacure Cambridge Rare Disease Showcase

Findacure’s Annual Cambridge rare disease Showcase is back on 16th August.

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Findacure are also looking for daring individuals to take on their infamous five-minute lightning talk challenge. If you have an exciting project to announce, a personal rare disease experience, or a unique approach to rare disease research, why not share it at their event? Calls for lightning talks are open until Friday 27th July and can be submitted during registration.

Tickets are available now by visiting www.findacure.org.uk/cambridge-showcase and attendance is free to patients, patient groups and charities.

People’s Health Trust grant makes a world of difference to our Unique Feet group

People’s Health Trust grant makes a world of difference to our Unique Feet group

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In autumn 2017 we were delighted to be funded by a People’s Health Trust grant using money raised by Health Commit through the Health Lottery to help grow and develop our Unique Feet children’s activity group. People’s Health Trust is an independent charity funded by 51 local society lotteries and the money they raise through The Health Lottery and we are honoured to have received their support.

We’ve welcomed new members of all ages over the last few months and have been getting involved in all sorts of fun. The group began by meeting weekly for yoga sessions with Emily, our trusted Unique Feet supporter who has worked with us from it’s first steps in 2016.
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So why yoga?

As our poster explains, yoga helps children to develop greater body awareness, improves attention span, supports them to develop muscle tone, flexibility, circulation and lung capacity.

The health benefits are significant but benefits come also in their confidence and they learn new skills and surprise themselves at what they can achieve together.  Most of all they have a chance to meet together and have fun!

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The better weather has allowed the group to move on to outdoor activities now and they’ve been taking part in the weekly You Can Bike Too project. This is a brilliant award winning, all-ability cycling project delivered at Milton Country Park and the only project of its kind in Cambridge.

There are a wide range of bikes to suit individuals or groups which are great fun to try.  We’ve been trying out the colourful array of specially adapted bikes to help those with disabilities to take to their wheels and to support others to build confidence in riding.

Cambridge Rare Disease Network - People's Health Trust grant makes a world of difference to our Unique Feet group 43
Cambridge Rare Disease Network - People's Health Trust grant makes a world of difference to our Unique Feet group 44
Cambridge Rare Disease Network - People's Health Trust grant makes a world of difference to our Unique Feet group 45
Siblings joined us for a Christmas Party, and for bouncing fun at xtreme 360 trampoline park at Easter and there are horse-riding lessons planned for the summer term.  So much fun to look forward too!

It’s wonderful to see friendships and community developing amongst our local families living with rare conditions who can often feel isolated. The group is a wide mix of children of different ages and all with different conditions.

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Pint of Science Festival welcomes rare disease!

Pint of Science Festival welcomes rare disease!

CRDN hosts a rare disease themed pub for the annual international pint of science festival…

Pint of Science is a non-profit organisation that brings some of the most brilliant scientists to your local pub to discuss their latest research and findings with you.

In 2012 Dr Michael Motskin and Dr Praveen Paul were two research scientists at Imperial College London. They began by organising an event called ‘Meet the Researchers’. It brought people affected by Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, motor neurone disease and multiple sclerosis into their labs to show them the kind of research they do. It was inspirational for all involved.

They thought “if people want to come into labs to meet scientists, why not bring the scientists out to the people?” And so Pint of Science was born.

In May 2013 they held the first 3-day festival in Cambridge, London and Oxford.

Our events manager, Jo Balfour, co-hosted the Cambridge Neuroscience pub that first year in collaboration with Dr Hannah Critchlow, author of Ladybird Expert Series book, Consciousness.

Pint of Science quickly took off around the world and now happens in nearly 300 cities covering all manner of scientific topics.

We were delighted to be given the opportunity to host a rare disease themed pub in Cambridge during the festival!

The chance to host a pub, at an international festival with 19,500 twitter & 21,000 facebook followers, helped us put rare firmly on the menu

We hosted two evenings at Cambridge’s trendy drinking hole, Thirsty.  Both nights were sold out and we packed into their back room to hear about exciting research into rare disease taking place on our doorstep and personal stories of living with rare disease. Our speakers ranged from well know Cambridge rare disease expert Dr Lucy Raymond to emerging shining light, PhD student Patrick Short.  A huge thank you to all of their speakers for their fascinating talks, their personal stories and for getting involved in the fun.

For the full line up, speaker bios and talk synopses click on the links below.

Treasure Your Exceptions

Rare Disease: The Genomic Revolution, Searching for Cure for the 1 in 17

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Cambridge Rare Disease Network - Pint of Science Festival welcomes rare disease! 50

Wellcome Genome Campus Lecture and Tour

Wellcome Genome Campus Lecture and Tour

Summit Patient Journey poster creators and Unique Feet parents on tour at the Wellcome genome campus. 

As part of our #CRDN2017 summit, 33 rare disease patient groups and individuals created posters for exhibition and inclusion in a Patient Journey poster book. As a thank you and an opportunity to meet others and to continue to learn, the Cambridgeshire based Wellcome Genome Campus Engagement Team treated them and some of our Unique Feet group parents to a fascinating presentation, a guided tour and delicious lunch.

Dr Steve Scott from the Public Engagement Team delivered an interesting introductory talk about the history of and the pioneering work being undertaken at the Wellcome Genome Campus.  Following Prof Matthew Hurles treated the group to a fascinating and informative presentation and discussion about the DDD Deciphering Developmental Disorders project. 

The group were full of curiosity and questions and we wished we could have stayed all day! 

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Cambridge Rare Disease Network - Wellcome Genome Campus Lecture and Tour 52
It was interesting to hear how they were re-looking at those not diagnosed the first time round and getting more results
Sue

Pitt Hopkins UK

Being a lay person I found the content easy to follow and definitely learned new information. 
Angela

Action Duchenne

Amazing! Really interesting and wish we had more time. It would be great for them to give us more understanding – why do genes go wrong? 
Sue

Unique Feet parent

What lessons were learnt from the DDD project?

Exome sequencing is cost effective for diagnosis now
Sequencing parents enables rapid, accurate interpretation
Sharing data across centres:
increases the accuracy of diagnosis
increases discovery of new genes
model for translational research in other disease areas
Informatics underpinning is essential
Up front capture of clinical information is critical
Expert-curated knowledge underpins clinical interpretation
Regular re-interpretation of undiagnosed patients
Barriers to translation into existing NHS genetics services

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Cambridge Rare Disease Network - Wellcome Genome Campus Lecture and Tour 54
Cambridge Rare Disease Network - Wellcome Genome Campus Lecture and Tour 55

Rare Disease Day 2018 Addenbrooke’s Concourse

Rare Disease Day 2018 Addenbrooke’s Concourse

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Kay and Jo at Addenbrookes concourse meeting the staff and public

Some of the CRDN team headed to Addenbrookes to celebrate Rare Disease Day 2018 by meeting patients, visitors and staff with other rare disease advocates at the concourse.

CRDN’s Kay Parkinson and Jo Balfour took shelter from the snow to spend a busy few hours with other charities and departments from CUH chatting to patients, visitors and staff at Addenbrookes concourse in celebration of Rare Disease Day.

We’re always amazed by people’s curiosity, their personal stories and the knowledge we can share and gain from these kinds of interactions. Thanks for stopping by!

It was a great opportunity to let people know about our joint CRDN/NIHR BioResource lecture event later that evening too.  Read our next blog post to see who our guest speakers were.

Parachute Jumping for Cambridge Rare Disease Network

Parachute Jumping for Cambridge Rare Disease Network

Six incredible ladies, Helena Baker, Zoe Napier, Emily Mortimer, Lisa Griffin, Caroline Churn and Juliette Newton will be parachute jumping for CRDN on the 4th June!


We’ll be there to cheer them on and watch them fly at Beccles Airfield, Norfolk. Please help our courageous ladies achieve their £1,800 fundraising target by donating through
 Helena’s Just Giving page, Emily’s Just Giving Page and Zoe’s Just Just Giving Page.

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So why CRDN?

Helena Baker is Vice President of the Nursing Medical Research Network and was one of the key speakers at our event in March 2016, where we discussed the potential need for a rare disease nursing service. Helena was born with Fibular Hemimelia, a rare congenital disorder that left her, in her own words, with one leg shorter than the other– a tiny club foot, lots of missing ligaments in her leg and body, and a fierce determination not to let any of these problems stop her from doing what she wanted in life, except perhaps play hockey.

Helena recalls growing up having more operations than hot dinners, but never received a diagnosis.

Eventually, just before she turned 50, she was told of her diagnosis. Doctors were clear there was nothing her mother could have done during pregnancy that would have changed the outcome. She is sure that having had a diagnosis earlier would have made a world of difference to her parents. Helena has been recovering from more surgery having had her right leg amputated below the knee last September and is currently learning to walk again. She is continuing to make a great recovery as she’s getting to grips with her new prosthetic leg.  Unfortunately there’s been a slight set back with Helena breaking her remaining ankle.

Helena says “On the day, I’m not allowed to jump wearing my prosthetic leg and I’m also not allowed to land on my recently broken one remaining ankle.  So I’m going to land on my instructor who will be delighted.  I’m planning on testing them out beforehand for looks and comfort.” Helena’s grit and good humour never cease to astound us. She reassured us  “We are approaching our impending doom in the spirit of total denial, all desperately trying to pretend that it’s not happening”.

 

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That’s the spirit Helena!

Because of her strong belief that having access to a rare disease nursing service would have been a huge support to her and her family, she has decided to take on a parachute jump on Sunday 4th June 2017 at Beccles Airfield alongside Zoe Napier, Emily Mortimer, Lisa Griffin, Caroline Churn and Juliette Newton, to help raise funds for CRDN towards their goal of establishing such a nursing service for those with rare diseases.

Thank you for your support and good luck and a huge thank you to Helena & her team!

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