“Special” populations

This week I attended a meeting in Sofia, Bulgaria as part of the UNGAP project. The European Network on Understanding Gastrointestinal Absorption-related Processes (UNGAP) is a multidisciplinary Network of scientists aiming to advance the field of intestinal drug absorption by focussing on 4 major challenges: (i) differences between specific patient populations, (ii) regional differences along the gastrointestinal tract, (iii) the intraluminal behaviour of advanced formulations, and (iv) the food-drug interface.

I was presenting on administration to “special” populations which encompassed both children and older adults – there are many similarities in these groups and the inclusion of carers in the administration process adds a layer of complexity.

Whilst there I heard many other interesting presentations with particular highlights including reviews on how food can affect drug performance and how we can make models to better predict drug absorption in these special populations.

It was fantastic to hear that outreach to the public is part of the UNGAP project and that there are opportunities to share the amazing work on so many platforms. There was even talk of a comic as an outreach mechanism.

Tales from a 6 year old

Recently my sister-in-law sent me a diary entry written by my nephew 3 years ago following a trip to Birmingham when he took part in a study I was running. The study was looking at the acceptability of multiparticulates.

I love the fact that his favourite part was getting a wristband and a kinder egg. I should also say that on that date there was a Sikh charity giving out free food which was also a memory for him and me! The study faded into the background as part of his day. However, I do feel like I should send this to an ethics panel to show that their work is valuable as the child who participated felt comfortable with the event and there was no sign of distress. However, I also need to point out that the children were offered fruit as a reward for our study rather than chocolate and that egg was a general treat!

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EuPFI 2018

I spent the last 3 days at the European Paediatric Formulation Initiative’s annual conference. This is a meeting dedicated to better understanding of children’s medicines and how we can work to improve them. It was the 10 year anniversary of the meeting so it was an opportunity to celebrate. However, it became apparent that there are still relatively few bespoke age-appropriate medicines available for children and that there is still a long way to go. On the positive side there was so much enthusiasm to get there so I remain hopeful.

A highlight of the meeting was the involvement of 2 young people who were able to chair a panel discussion and contribute to the meeting. In addition it was great to have a parent representative to speak about the day to day tribulations involved in administration of medicines to children.

The meeting closed with a talk by Professor Charles Spence from the University of Oxford. He has looked at how sounds and surroundings impact on taste. Most of his work has been at the high-end restaurants rather than the routine dosing of medicines but there was plenty of food for thought in his presentation. If you want to know more here is a sample of his work:

Tasting spoons: Assessing how the material of a spoon affects the taste of the food, Piqueras-Fiszman et al. Food Quality and Preference 24 (2012) 24–29

Writing challenge

I have accepted an invitation to participate in a writing challenge  – 14 days in October for making writing a priority

I hope that this will help me re-engage with writing for research and look at ways to include writing in my every day working life. Hopefully there will be direct benefits to this blog!

I find that writing can be a really therapeutic exercise and helps to organise my thoughts into actions which is always a stress-buster!

We need to celebrate writing and I will ensure that some of my writing is aimed at information for young people 🙂

 

University promotion of my research

I was really pleased to find a University of Birmingham leaflet in my post yesterday, particularly as it had a short piece on my research.

It included a link to this website.

On the webpages you can see poems that are read by children expressing how they feel about taking medicines on a regular basis. These poems are powerful as they allow children to express themselves in their own language to tell their story. The use of poetry can be a great tool for patients to put their feelings and experiences into their own words.

Poem 1: It makes me feel blue

Poem 2: You ask me why I say No

Poem 3: Medicine medicine

EuPFI 2017

Last week I attended the European Paediatric Formulation Initiative annual conference in Warsaw.

This is always a great meeting full of people working hard to ensure that age-appropriate medicines are available to children. Particular highlights from the meeting included:

An inspirational talk by Catherine Litalien about the specific needs in Canada (http://gpfccanada.com/)- she also shared a video that certainly makes the point in a very emotive way.

I was also inspired by a talk that brought the technology from food sciences (via PepsiCo) into medicines to look at novel ways to mask the taste of medicines.

Another highlight was hearing the story of the development of a new formulation of hydrocortisone to provide parents/carers and most importantly children with an easier way to take their medicines. Martin Whitaker told the story of Infacort(R) and the plans for this to be available for children and families very soon.

Some of my own work was shared via my research students. Justyna Czarnocka gave an excellent presentation on measuring the mouthfeel of films using tribology to optimise new formulations for children. Cameron Watson won a poster prize for his work describing how parents currently administer hydrocortisone to their children and the accuracy of the dosing.

 

RCPCH & us….

Last week I attended the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health annual conference. This forum brings together researchers passionate about the health of children.

I was particularly inspired by the young people from TRANSform talking about issues in transgender teenagers and providing a voice – all very powerful.

There were whole sessions planned by young people and this should become the norm going forwards

http://www.rcpch.ac.uk/improving-child-health/us-voice-children-young-people-and-families/us-voice-children-young-people-an

 

Young people having a powerful voice?

This week I have been inspired by Liv Jones. Liv is a teenage pupil at a school where they are about to move to a new building. The teachers were asked to suggest inspirational people as the names for the new rooms. Liv noticed that there were very few women on the lists and so asked if they could look to have half the rooms named after inspirational women to reflect the gender balance of the pupils. The school have refused. This is where Liv could have given up… But no she continued with her campaign. She used Twitter to attract attention and even appeared on the Guilty Feminist podcast to talk about her campaign. I love this story – obviously the message she sends is one I wholeheartedly agree with – but her dedication to her campaign and her maturity is what is most admirable. She has not just gone quietly away to grumble to her peers, she has risen to the challenge to continue her campaign and to to empower other people (young and old) to stand up for their beliefs and to make things happen. She really has got a powerful voice.

If you want to sign her campaign here is the link: https://www.change.org/p/rooms-of-our-own-equal-gender-representation-in-school?source_location=minibar