Category Archives: Uncategorized

Spring clean your wellbeing

This is the time of year when many of us think about spring cleaning our homes and getting everything nice and tidy, but what about some simple ideas for spring cleaning your wellbeing too? Here at Covance Leeds, we have put together some tips for how you can inject some new energy in to your daily routine just in time for spring!

Get creative

It can be so rewarding to take up a new hobby which allows you to unleash your creative side – whether it is painting, drawing or gardening it is the best feeling to do something creative and it can be such a challenging experience.

Self-care

Many of us are so busy during the average day that we forget to make time to do the things we enjoy. Self-care is so important for emotional wellbeing, so put aside some time to do something nice for yourself every day whether it is reading a good book, having a long soak in the bath, or treating yourself to a slice of cake – it is important to spoil yourself now and again!

Exercise and eat well

It may sound obvious, but regular exercise and eating a healthy diet are both shortcuts to feeling better mentally. Try to eat three healthy meals per day to keep your energy levels up and aim for thirty minutes exercise daily when possible.

Make plans

Having something to look forward to is such a great feeling, so what better way to improve your wellbeing than to plan something you really want to do. It doesn’t have to be a lavish holiday – just getting tickets to a gig or planning a picnic in the park with friends can create that same feeling of anticipation.

Set goals

Setting goals and completing them is a good way of feeling fulfilled this spring. Even setting a simple goal such as completing a long walk or learning a new skill gives that immense feeling of pride and satisfaction when the goal is completed.

Explore somewhere new

The expression ‘a change is as good as a rest’ is sound advice as far as we are concerned and going somewhere new can really change your perspective and give you a happy feeling. It doesn’t need to be a long holiday, even just a day out to a new place you haven’t visited before can give you a burst of energy. Now that the warmer weather is here, why not plan a trip to the beach or a day in the countryside with friends? Above all, try going to somewhere new!

Do something rewarding

Doing something rewarding such as helping others, taking the time to meet a friend for coffee or volunteering can be such an enriching experience. If you feel like contributing something valuable this spring why not consider taking part in one of our clinical trials here at our Covance Leeds clinic? You can relax in comfortable surroundings while helping to advance treatments for a range of conditions. We are always looking for healthy volunteers and if you would like to see which studies we currently have available, please click here: https://bit.ly/2rVYy6E

photo of pumpkins

Looking forward to Autumn

As the days get shorter and the evenings get colder it can be a little disheartening to say a final goodbye to summer, but there is so much to look forward to this autumn…

Halloween
Did you know that Halloween, which is widely celebrated on October 31st, evolved from the ancient Celtic festival ‘Samhain’. As we all know, the modern version revolves around trick or treating, fancy dress and carving pumpkins! Did you know the biggest pumpkin in the UK was recently grown by twin brothers from Lymington in the New Forest, weighing in at over 1000kg? While the tradition of carving pumpkins is hugely popular, in the past people used to carve turnips to make Jack o’ lanterns as these were more widely available.

One of the most iconic horror films, Halloween (directed by John Carpenter) was released in 1978 and the film grossed $70 million at worldwide box office – more than 215 times its original budget!

Hygge
Cold nights call for getting cosy and Hygge is the perfect trend for this time of year. Hygge is a Danish/Norwegian word which roughly translates to ‘a mood of cosy and comfy contentment’. Simple ways to add Hygge to your home this autumn include lighting scented candles, putting warm blankets on your sofa, making hot chocolate, reading a book next to the fire and wearing warm sweaters. It really is simple to make things Hygge, it is all about the cosy factor!

Bonfire Night
We celebrate Bonfire Night on 5th November in the UK and this tradition came about after the Gunpowder Plot masterminded by Guy Fawkes and friends on 5th November 1605. To this day, we light bonfires and watch firework displays to mark the occasion and the hearty foods served at organised bonfires such as jacket potatoes, toffee apples, hot dogs and parkin cake make us look forward to this celebration even more!

Find some Halloween and autumn events at the links below:
https://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/halloween-2018-6-of-yorkshire-s-spookiest-events-this-halloween-1-9415956

https://www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk/whats-on/bonfire-night-best-firework-displays-in-leeds-1-9415753

https://inews.co.uk/inews-lifestyle/travel/best-autumn-days-out-2018-uk-what-to-do/

photo of lemonade

International Clinical Trials Day

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade, or so the saying goes… but when you sip a cool glass of lemonade, you may not know that lemons were used in the first clinical trial.

International Clinical Trials Day is celebrated around the world on the 20th May to recognise the contribution clinical trials make to the development of medicines. On 20th of May 1747 Doctor James Lind, a Royal Navy doctor performed the first controlled clinical trial aboard The HMS Salisbury. He tested various treatments on twelve sailors who were suffering from scurvy, which led him to discover that oranges and lemons were effective in treating the condition.

Clinical trials have come a long way since then and at Covance we are proud to be involved in helping to develop pioneering treatments. If you’re already one of our volunteers you might not be guaranteed a place in medical history but you can be proud that you are a part of something that makes a true difference. Spread the word and don’t forget you’ll receive payment of at least £50 for each recommendation (£200 for specific groups).

And don’t forget to keep checking our list of clinical trials as we have lots to choose from.

Find out more about how you can volunteer for a clinical trial.

big bees on frame

Covance Geneva Demonstrates How to “Bee Real”

What’s the buzz at the Covance office in Geneva, Switzerland? The team is celebrating its first honey harvest. Yes, you read bees blue backgroundthat correctly—its first honey harvest. You see, in May of this year, Covance Geneva’s Three Rings (or R-ings) Committee—representing “Rethinking, Reducing and Recycling”—worked with a local startup to install three beehives on the roof of the company’s four-story building in downtown Geneva. The Committee hopes this initiative will send a strong message about the vital importance of sustainable development and the difference each of us can make.

 

“The Three Rings Committee is empowered to identify positive initiatives for the company that further environmental awareness and responsibility,” says Bertrand Jaton, Associate Director, Master Data Management and Business Reporting, Covance, Geneva, Switzerland. It was Bertrand who first suggested the idea of rooftop beehives to the Committee, as it had proven to be a successful initiative at his wife’s company, but the project was conducted by Vally Kordorouba, a former QA auditor who retired just after the beehives were installed. In order to recognize her dedication to this project, one beehive was dedicated in her name.

 

“Many people don’t realize that more than 70 percent of all fruits and vegetables need bees to provide cross-pollination,” explains Bertrand. “Unfortunately, the bee population continues to decline due to pesticides, parasites and monoculture (the cultivation or growth of a single crop, especially on agricultural or forest land). This can lead to a decline in the diversity of fruits and vegetables available to all of us. The Three Rings Committee is committed to raising awareness about this issue and contributing in our own small way to the solution.”

 

The 30-member Committee and their 600+colleagues at Covance Geneva are learning a great deal about bees and beekeeping, and it’s proving to be quite fascinating. Each of the three rooftop beehives serves as home to approximately 80,000 bees, so Covance is hosting some 240,000 bees. The hives are visible through the glass windows of an indoor hallway that circles the building. Each hive has only one queen bee whose role is to give birth to all of the other bees. There are 100 to 200 male bees per hive, while the remainder are working bees. Approximately half of the bees leave and return each day, collecting pollen to feed the baby bees. That pollen is then transformed into honey.

 

honey pot on blue backgroundThe first honey harvest at Covance Geneva occurred on August 8 and yielded 55 kilos of honey—enough to fill 380 small jars. While Covance will gift some of the honey to clients, most will be sold with all proceeds being donated to the Autisme Genève, a nonprofit organization supported by Covance Geneva for several years now. Future harvests may yield as many as 300 kilos per year, or about 2,400 jars. Two harvests are anticipated per year.

 

Based on numerous employee submissions, the honey has officially been named “Bee Real.” Employees also suggested the language for the label, which includes the slogan “Covance and Bees Working Together for a Greener and Sweeter Environment,” and accompanying text that reads “This honey, harvested on the roof of our laboratory, attests to the commitment of Covance toward the protection of bees, essential players pollinating flowers and trees.” Of course, the label will also feature the Covance logo and tagline, “Solutions Made Real.”

 

The Three Rings have created a series of ten posters about bees, designed to inform and engage the Covance Geneva team, which are now on display in the stairway of the four-story building. The poster series is part of a health and wellness campaign also created by the Three Rings that encourages people to use the stairs and to learn something new in the process. The previous poster series featured the history of Switzerland. In addition, Covance Geneva will host an annual bee workshop, where interested employees can learn more directly from the beekeeper.

 

Bertrand reports that the beekeeper is very impressed with the heartiness of the beehives, especially since Covance Geneva ishoney yummy gone located in an industrial area. The team shares in that excitement and has expressed great pride in its ability to sustain the rooftop beehives. Five employees who keep beehives at home are currently accompanying the beekeeper during his weekly visits, asking questions that will help them with their own hives.

 

“We have seen great interest from our team,” says Bertrand. “Covance is dedicated to diversity and bees are part of that diversity. No bees means much less diversity in our fruits and vegetables. We want to send a firm message that at Covance Geneva, we take that very seriously.”

green pathogens antibiotics

Antibiotics – Resisting the Resistance

Since the accidental discovery of penicillin in 1928, antibiotics have become an absolute cornerstone of medicine. Used to treat everything from meningitis to acne, and often prescribed to prevent infections after surgery or serious injury, it’s hard to imagine a world where we cannot rely on antibiotics to cure what ails us. However, with the onset of resistant ‘superbugs’, and with no new antibiotics being developed in the last 20 years, this world we can barely imagine could well become a reality.

The Arsenal – an overview of our antibiotics.

  • Penicillin, macrolides and fluoroquinolones – penicillin, the mother of them all, is usually the first line of defence against apenicillin petri cultures broad spectrum of bacterial infections. Macrolides like erythromycin and fluoroquinolones are a useful alternative for anyone who has a penicillin allergy
  • Tetracycline – most often used to treat bacterial skin conditions like acne and rosacea
  • Aminoglycosides – these are the ‘big guns’; as they can produce some unpleasant side effects, they are most often used to treat dangerous infections such as meningitis and sepsis.

All of the above work by preventing bacteria from repairing itself, preventing bacteria from multiplying, or by penetrating and bursting the bacteria’s cell walls.

 

 

The Battleground – challenges facing our antibiotics

  • Over-prescription: As antibiotics have proven so effective at treating bacterial infections, they have arguably become a pharmaceutical ‘crutch’, prescribed to quickly dispatch illnesses which may have resolved by themselves given time and careful management. Additionally, antibiotics are sometimes mistakenly prescribed for viral infections such as colds and ‘flu. Antibiotics are not effective in treating viruses! However, the antibiotic will target harmless bacteria present in the body, and these encounters make it easier for the nasty bugs to resist that antibiotic in the future.
  • Incorrect usage: It might seem counterintuitive to carry on taking medicine once you’ve stopped feeling poorly. But when it comes to bacterial infections, starting to feel better doesn’t necessarily mean that the ‘bugs’ are all dead and gone. Stop taking antibiotics before the course finishes and there’s a good chance that the remaining bacteria may recover, multiply and adapt to resist the antibiotic you’ve exposed them to.

The Enemy – the next generation of superbugs

red bacteriaHearing the word ‘superbug’, you might immediately think of MRSA and C Difficile. While these infections can spread rapidly and may lead to dangerous complications, they can usually be treated with high-dose antibiotics.

An even greater concern is Multidrug-resistant Tuberculosis (MDR-TB). Despite treatment and vaccination programmes which gave us good control over the disease in the 20th century, TB is becoming resistant to many antibiotics, meaning that patients often require medicines which are expensive, not readily available, or which cause unpleasant side effects. What’s more, TB is changing fast. Currently, around 9% of MDR-TB cases are diagnosed as ‘extensively resistant’, meaning that even our most powerful TB treatments are ineffective against it.

Just as TB has adapted quickly, there is a real danger of other infections including gonorrhoea and E Coli retaliating against this generation of antibiotics.

 

The Future – Where do we go from here?

Even before Phase 1 Clinical Trials can begin, drug development is a lengthy process. It can take up to 20 years for a drug to progress from Research and Development to the pharmacy shelves.  Fortunately, there are already a few promising new antibiotics in the pipeline which could hold the key to resisting the resistance!

  • Tarocin A and Tarocin B – these molecules attack and damage the cell walls of harmful bacteria. By itself it may not be antibiotics from soil-dwelling microbesparticularly effective, but it is hoped that a combination of tarocin and another antibiotic could attack bacteria on 2 fronts, rendering even resistant bacteria vulnerable to treatments once again. Lab tests of tarocins have shown promising results, and human clinical trials are expected to begin soon.
  • Teixobactin – Lab tests have shown that teixobactin attacks infection in a completely new way, meaning that bacteria have little or no resistance to it. It is naturally present in soil, and does not flourish in the typical, sterile environment of a laboratory. Special technology has been developed to extract teixobactin from soil-dwelling microbes. As this process has been particularly complex, teixobactin is not as far forward in development as the tarocins, but it is believed that it could be used to develop as many as 25 potential new antibiotics.

In The Meantime

It is highly likely that all of us will need to use at least 1 course of antibiotics at some point in our lives. It’s in everybody’s best interest to resist the resistance! Here’s how you can help

  • Practice good hygiene – the majority of superbugs are spread through contact with contaminated surfaces. Ensure thathandwashing hygeine health you clean your hands after visiting the loo, and after any visits to the GPs surgery or hospital. Using your own towels, flannels etc can help with this too – this is one instance where it’s okay not to share!
  • Don’t ask your Dr for antibiotics – trust his or her judgement. You may not be prescribed antibiotics immediately if your Dr suspects you have a viral or a mild bacterial infection. You can always return if your symptoms persist or worsen!
  • If you’re given antibiotics, use them all – even if you’re feeling better. That bug could come back with a vengeance and be much harder to shift this time!
  • Consider taking part in Clinical Trials – drug development can take up to 20 years, even when there is an urgent need for a new medicine. Healthy volunteers who take part in paid clinical trials with Covance help to speed up the process and get essential treatments on the market sooner.
Rio 2016 banner Olympics

Olympic Spirit – A Potential Treatment for National Gloom

As recent news would suggest, taking part in a clinical trial and taking part in the Olympic Games may be more similar than you would think. You’d be forgiven for thinking that both would require you to be administered with some form of drug, if you are a Russian athletics competitor anyway. In the midst of the recent negative controversies surrounding the upcoming Games in Rio de Janeiro, now would be a perfect time to remind ourselves of how the Olympic Games can be the perfect distraction, in the short term at least, to everyday worries. And also how the Olympic spirit is the embodiment of the values that we should all promote and aspire to live by.

Olympic Games 2012 Rings on Tower BridgeNaturally, we can’t think about the Olympic Games and not recall that special fortnight in 2012, where the oldest and greatest sporting competition came to these shores for the first time in 64 years. After years of doubt and cynicism surrounding whether hosting the Games was worth the cost at a time of deep recession, the opening ceremony of London 2012 arrived. Before we knew it, the gold rush began and the cynicism that once threatened to overflow, had been replaced with unreserved optimism. The widespread optimism was a welcome culture change to the traditional British pessimism and for that particular moment in time it was as though anything was possible. It’s hard to put a finger on it, but for those two weeks in 2012, we were together, and it felt like the little problems that we all share were a distant memory. Memories which were exchanged with national pride and a celebration of just what we could acheive if we put our minds to it.

The sense of togetherness is also created through the worldwide coverage of The Olympic Games. The knowledge that so many Olympic rings peace sign and Brazilian flagothers, from all around the globe, are equally as hooked to the action as yourself, makes you feel just as part of the Games as the athletes themselves. The vast reach of the Games can make it the perfect place to demonstrate the value of togetherness and friendship. Sometimes in the face of adversity. Proof of this was shown at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. During the time of the Games, tensions between Russia and Georgia were at breaking point as the countries went to war. In an odd twist of fate, two female competitors from both countries, shared a medal podium in the shooting event. In a stand of defiance against the ongoing war, both competitors also shared an embrace along with the sentiments that “There should be no hatred among athletes and people”. Sentiments that we can all echo.

Another value that is a paramount element of the Olympic spirit is that of excellence and determination. The athletes taking part can be a shining example to those watching of how hard work can get to you to the top of your game. We could all learn a lot from an Olympic athlete’s mentality of stretching every sinew to its absolute limit in pursuit of that illustrious medal. It is definitely a mentality we try to promote here at Covance when carrying out clinical research, in order to develop new treatments.  The Olympic Games also emphasizes the importance of taking part. Winning isn’t everything and sometimes just making it to the start line can be an achievement in itself. Consider the performance of the Jamaican bobsled team at the 1988 Winter Olympics; although they didn’t even register a time in the Games after crashing dramatically in their qualifying run, their determination to succeed against all odds won the hearts of the world. Just watch “Cool Runnings” and see for yourself!

Christ the Redeemer Rio and Olympic Rings 2016These are just a few of the values associated with the Olympic Games and one of the many reasons we are all enticed by it every time those rings roll back around. The Games in 2012 invoked a special spirit across the country where it just seemed as though we were all extremely positive. We would no doubt love for that spirit to return, if only for a little while, at a time where the national outlook is less certain. Hopefully Rio will be able to provide this, and do the same for Brazil that it did for us four years ago.

So with the Rio Games just a javelin throw away. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself becoming an expert judge in the sychronised diving 10 metre platform final, or being able to distinguish the difference between an ippon and a waza-ari as your recently adopted favourite judoka goes for gold!

Leeds Beckett Clinical Trials Rose Bowl Holidays

5 Reasons to Seriously Consider Clinical Trials in your Uni Holidays

Aaaaah, Uni Summer holidays! Several months of freedom to enjoy lazy sunny days, international travel, catching up with friends… or (more likely) fighting your classmates for a 4-hours-a-week contract at your local bar or coffee-house! Have you considered making this year the year you do something really different by volunteering for a paid clinical trial? Besides the fact that you’ll receive from £100 per day for your time, here are 5 reasons to give it some serious thought.

1) Bragging Rights

The vast majority of clinical trials conducted at Covance Leeds are very uneventful. In fact, we’ve been conducting studies here for the last 30 years with no major incidents.

However, this shouldn’t let this stop you from using your experience on a drug trial as a wicked conversation starter!

your bragging rights after a clinical trialLap up the attention as your housemates ask you strings of questions like:

“Weren’t you nervous about it?”

“How many needles did you have?”

“Is it true that you spent half your time playing Xbox?”

“You got paid HOW MUCH!?”

 

It beats hearing about that time Pete pulled a pint for some bloke off Emmerdale (again!).

2) Low-Cost Living 

It’s the Catch-22 of every student’s Summer. You want to stay in your Uni home, you get a job in the city, you barely earn enough to pay rent and eat, let alone pursue any of the fun activities which made you want to stay in the first place.

students saving pennies, low cost livingMost of Covance’s clinical trials involve a residential stay. This can be anything from 1 night to 30 nights – it’s entirely up to you how long you’d feel comfortable staying. But however long, for the duration of your stay you’ll not only be earning money, but saving it too.  Full board and 3 square meals per day are provided for all volunteers; you can use all of our facilities including fast wifi and Sky Sports + Movies, and if you stay for 10 days or more we’ll even do your laundry!

 

Residential volunteers are required to stay within the clinic grounds at all times, so there is nothing you need to spend money on. But relax, you can always order from the internet if you really need a retail fix!

3) Getting Ahead in your Uni Studies

Okay, maybe you weren’t planning to spend Summer doing Uni work, but you’ll be glad you did during term-time when students study hard textbookeveryone around you is freaking out over their workload.

 

As well as our large, comfy rec room, we have a couple of self-contained quiet spaces for our volunteers to use. In between clinical functions you can always retreat to one of these to make a start on next year’s reading list or plan your dissertation without any distractions.

 

4) Getting the Lowdown on your Health

Here in Leeds, we specialize in Phase 1 clinical trials – the early stages of testing in healthy adults. We have different criteria for each of our studies, but as a general rule you must be in pretty decent health to make it onto a study panel.

 

one does not simply walk onto a clinical trial memeWhen you call to register your interest in medical testing, we’ll take you through a detailed health questionnaire. Don’t worry – you certainly don’t need to be Usain Bolt to qualify, but to see if you’re eligible we need to know about any notable medical history or ongoing health issues. (We’ll also speak with your GP, so don’t worry if you forget anything at this stage!)

 

 

If everything checks out, we will invite you in for screening, which is a bit like a health MOT. Typically, we perform tests like blood and urine sampling, ECG heart monitoring and a physical examination. The results of these tests tell us (and in turn, you) about anything that’s going on under the surface. Usually, if test results are out-of-range, this is down to something simple like dehydration or your body fighting off an infection. But whatever the outcome, it pays to know exactly where you stand with your health.

5) Actually, Really, Properly Making a Difference

Phase 1 clinical trials in healthy adults are an essential part of bringing every new medicine onto pharmacy shelves. Without healthy volunteers taking part in these studies, there would be no ibuprofen, no inhalers for asthmatics, no antibiotics, no insulin pumps, no vaccines, and no chemotherapy drugs, to name but a few. So next time you brew up a Lemsip, say a small ‘thank you’ to the volunteers who made it possible!

 

Covance works with many of the biggest names in pharmaceuticals who have their sights set on a vast range of conditions. In the past 2 years, we have worked on treatments for:

 

Amongst many others. We couldn’t have done this without our volunteers, who are all heroes in our eyes!

 

Taking part in Clinical Trials is not a decision to be taken lightly, and it’s not for everyone. But if you are interested in taking part you can apply here, or if you’d just like to know a little bit more to help you make up your mind, you can always call us on 0113 394 5200.

Why does Covance have so many T2 Diabetes studies?

[fullwidth background_color=”” background_image=”” background_parallax=”none” enable_mobile=”no” parallax_speed=”0.3″ background_repeat=”no-repeat” background_position=”left top” video_url=”” video_aspect_ratio=”16:9″ video_webm=”” video_mp4=”” video_ogv=”” video_preview_image=”” overlay_color=”” overlay_opacity=”0.5″ video_mute=”yes” video_loop=”yes” fade=”no” border_size=”0px” border_color=”” border_style=”” padding_top=”20″ padding_bottom=”20″ padding_left=”0″ padding_right=”0″ hundred_percent=”no” equal_height_columns=”no” hide_on_mobile=”no” menu_anchor=”” class=”” id=””][one_full last=”yes” spacing=”yes” center_content=”no” hide_on_mobile=”no” background_color=”” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” background_position=”left top” border_size=”0px” border_color=”” border_style=”” padding=”” margin_top=”” margin_bottom=”” animation_type=”” animation_direction=”” animation_speed=”0.1″ class=”” id=””][fusion_text] Over the last 2 years, we have invited both patients and healthy volunteers to take part in a high volume of clinical trials for drugs which aim to treat diabetes or diabetic symptoms. Why is this disease such a big deal? These recent statistics from the World Health Organisation speak for themselves:

  • An estimated 422 MILLION people worldwide have diabetes
  • This is figure has quadrupled since 1980
  • The number is set to double AGAIN in the next 20 years
  • Of all diabetics, around 90% suffer with Type 2.

To cut a long story short, diabetes – and type 2 in particular –affects a vast number of people globally now, and will do for the foreseeable future.

As the number of people diagnosed with type 2 increases, we are beginning to see how the condition fits into a wider health landscape. Driven by hectic modern lifestyles, we are all tending towards more ‘convenience’ food, which is often laden with sugar and fat. In the digital age, it is harder to detach from TV box-sets, video games, social media and email inboxes, and we’re generally leading less active lifestyles. Obesity is on the rise, and this is known to increase our chances of developing type 2 diabetes.

blood glucose testSo, why doesn’t everyone just lose some weight?

Well, there is a little more to it than that. Alongside lifestyle, several other factors impact who will and who will not contract the condition:

  • Genetics – you are far more likely to be diagnosed with Type 2 if a member of your immediate family has the condition
  • Age – although it is now being diagnosed in children as young as 7, risk of contracting type 2 increases with age. Medical advances have meant that we are generally living to a much older age, which might partially explain the rise in cases.
  • Ethnicity – type 2 diabetes is more prevalent in Afro-Caribbean, Black African, Chinese and South Asian communities.

In isolation, adopting a healthier lifestyle is not going to put an end to the growth of type 2 diabetes. We need improved medical and pharmaceutical options to better control it – and in the long-term, hopefully cure it.

But even if we accept that many cases of type 2 could be prevented by diet and exercise – does this make medical research in this area any less important?

diabetes is no jokeOne of the biggest challenges faced by Type 2 Diabetics is stigma. Because the disease is closely associated with lifestyle factors, there is a pervasive sentiment that Type 2 diabetics have ‘brought it on themselves’, and are less deserving of treatment than patients with other conditions. It is very common to see diabetes, and type 2 in particular, being treated as the butt of a joke.

This kind of attitude helps no-one. The fact is, over 370 million type 2 diabetics are currently living with an incurable disease which requires daily management, and which can result in coma, loss of eyesight, loss of limbs, and even loss of life. This is not a sentence which anyone ‘deserves’, and it would be unethical for the pharmaceutical industry to ignore such a serious health crisis!

But what about Type 1 diabetics? Type 1 happens when the pancreas completely stops producing insulin. Lifestyle factors play no part in the development of this condition. Many type 1s contract diabetes in early childhood, and must inject insulin several times daily in order to survive. Should our preoccupation with treating type 2 diabetes detract from type 1 research? Of course not – and fortunately, it doesn’t! A wealth of medicines and biotech instruments are being developed with the aim of treating or curing type 1 – from insulin inhalers, to the artificial pancreas, to 3D organ printing and pancreas transplants. And what’s more, treatments which are initially trialled in type 2s can often be adapted to benefit people with both types of the disease.

check-inIt is often possible for healthy men and women to take part in our paid clinical trials and help us to test type 2 diabetes treatments which could go on to benefit millions of people. Currently, we are also looking for type 2 diabetics aged 18-75 who use metformin, or control the condition through diet and exercise. If you think you would qualify, and you’d like to find out more, give us a call on 0113 394 5200 or apply here.

clinical trials sponsored writing

What Does a Writing Competition Have To Do With Clinical Trials?

[fullwidth background_color=”” background_image=”” background_parallax=”none” enable_mobile=”no” parallax_speed=”0.3″ background_repeat=”no-repeat” background_position=”left top” video_url=”” video_aspect_ratio=”16:9″ video_webm=”” video_mp4=”” video_ogv=”” video_preview_image=”” overlay_color=”” overlay_opacity=”0.5″ video_mute=”yes” video_loop=”yes” fade=”no” border_size=”0px” border_color=”” border_style=”” padding_top=”20″ padding_bottom=”20″ padding_left=”0″ padding_right=”0″ hundred_percent=”no” equal_height_columns=”no” hide_on_mobile=”no” menu_anchor=”” class=”” id=””][one_full last=”yes” spacing=”yes” center_content=”no” hide_on_mobile=”no” background_color=”” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” background_position=”left top” border_size=”0px” border_color=”” border_style=”” padding=”” margin_top=”” margin_bottom=”” animation_type=”” animation_direction=”” animation_speed=”0.1″ class=”” id=””][fusion_text]hysteria bookShortly before last year’s mad Christmas rush I had the privilege of spending a day reading flash fiction, poetry and short stories by all the finalists of the Hysteria writing competition and writing a foreword for the finished anthology.

I have to say, this was a delightful day for me; but what do this competition and its accompanying book have to do with our clinical trials?

To answer this question, I should first tell you a little bit about the competition. It was set up in 2012 as a platform for female writers, with ‘women’ as the central theme for all of the submissions. Also, the competition is hosted by the Hysterectomy Association UK, which means it gives us an opportunity to connect with some of our most precious volunteers.

Have you ever been on our website and noticed that we regularly have studies which only allow post-menopausal or surgically sterile women?

The reason for this is very simple. As most of the medications we test are brand new, we do not yet know how they might affect the development of an unborn child. Indeed, there are many medicines already on the market which we use routinely and regularly which can be harmful to foetal development – like ibuprofen, for example.

Of course, then, it is very important that pregnant women don’t enrol in our studies. Furthermore, when a new drug is in the earliest stages of testing, we need to ensure that a female volunteer won’t fall pregnant during a study, or during the period after the study when elements of the drug may remain in the body.

laboratoryWhile we do have strict rules around contraception, the only way for clinical researchers to completely remove all risk to unborn babies is to appeal for volunteers who are no longer able to conceive.

And as so many of our studies are for people aged 18-55, we are often reliant on women who have had a Hysterectomy.

Hysterectomy is a major surgery. Undergoing this procedure can be very traumatic in itself, and the decision to have a hysterectomy is almost always the result of an emergency situation or a long duration of pain or illness. Both physically and emotionally, this is a difficult experience for a woman. Even though the surgery is undertaken for the benefit of the patient’s health, it takes time to come to terms with the feelings of loss associated with removal of the womb.

Perhaps it offers some comfort, then, that these women are essential to the progress of medical research? Physically and metabolically, male and female bodies are different to one another, so it is important that new drugs are tested on both men and women. Also, some drugs are developed to treat conditions which affect women exclusively, such as uterine fibroids and endometriosis; it is not feasible to test these drugs in men, nor is it ethical to test them in women who are able to bear children.

And this brings us neatly back to the question of why we sponsored a writing competition. The audience for Hysteria 2015 is Model PMSScrucial to our day-to-day work at Covance, and moreover, crucial to the future of medicine.

If you are post-menopausal or have had a hysterectomy and you’d like to learn more about our paid clinical trials, please click here.

If you would like to know more about the Hysteria 2015 anthology or to purchase a copy, please click here.

What is … the Human Appetite Lab?

 

hal 9000 human appetite lab studies What springs to mind when you hear the words ‘Human Appetite Lab’?

Benches full of bubbling test tubes? Conical flasks full of rainbow-coloured liquids?

Plates full of ‘bush-tucker’, designed to test our appetites to the limit?

Maybe you’re a bit of a sci-fi fanatic and you noticed that its initials spell ‘HAL’, and you are visualising evil computers a la 2001: A Space Odyssey?

If any of these are what you pictured, you might be disappointed to learn that it is in fact no more than a small suite of cubicles attached to our clinic, where we sometimes ask volunteers to eat a meal alone and in silence.

What’s the point in this? Well, we can learn a lot about the human appetite by getting people to concentrate on what they’re eating without any distraction from outside stimulus.

To help with some clinical staff training, I had a go in the HAL myself, and here’s how it went:

3pm: I wait outside the HAL for a member of the clinic team to let me in. I’m not allowed to knock on the door, as this would break the silence and might affect the other volunteers who are already eating. I realise that this ‘no outside stimulus’ rule is taken very seriously.

lasagne3.10pm: After being shown into my cubicle, I must wait in silence for 10 minutes before my meal is brought to me. The space is small without being too tight or claustrophobic, and the walls are plain white but for one canvas, which has an inoffensive picture of some leaves in pastel shades. Actually, I really, really enjoy this part! As a full-time-working Mum, I cannot remember the last time I sat for 10 minutes with nothing to do and no distractions! I almost wish I could stay and enjoy the peace a little longer, but I can smell food and my stomach is growling. (I’m usually a lunch-at-12 kind of girl, so I am ready for whatever’s on offer!)

3.15pm: One of my clinic colleagues brings in a tray full of food. Emphasis on FULL! There’s half a sliced cucumber, a dessert-bowl full of salad leaves, another full of yoghurt and a whole family-sized lasagne in its plastic tray. I’m not exaggerating when I say there’s enough here to feed four. Good thing I’m hungry!

I’m told that I must take vertical strips from the lasagne, transfer it onto my plate and eat everything on my plate before taking any more. I suppose that this will allow the clinicians to accurately measure how much I’ve eaten. Before she leaves, the trainee tells me that the purpose of this exercise is to eat until I feel ‘comfortably full’, and that if I do finish all of my lasagne before I reach this point then they will bring me more. Wow!

3.25pm: I’ve munched my way through one sliver which is about 1/5th of the width of my family lasagne. It was delicious! I nibble a bit of cucumber and think about eating some more. And then I realise that I don’t know whether I am ‘comfortably full’ or not! I could definitely walk away now and feel satisfied. But I’m sure there’s room for more! I have a long think about calling it a day. But the food is delicious, it’s free, and if I leave now I will be wasting over ¾ of a lasagne! So I cut one more small sliver. Yum!

3.35pm: As I waddle back to my desk, my stomach gurgles again but for a very different reason. I have definitely pushed myself to the less comfortable side of ‘comfortably full’.

So my experience of the Human Appetite Lab was a bit of an eye-opener! Firstly, it made me realise that our appetites are very sensitive to external factors. Even alone, in a silent room with blank walls, I still responded to cues outside of my own body – namely, a sense of obligation not to waste a free meal! Secondly, and a little worryingly, I learned that I am used to valuing these external cues over my body’s own reaction to food. I genuinely struggled to recognise when I was full.

It’s a common problem. When deciding how much of a meal to eat, most of us are influenced in some way by what’s going on eating togetheraround us. You are likely to eat more if your dining companions are really enjoying their meal, and less if they complain about the food. It is very common to feel obligated to eat everything on your plate, even if this means eating more than the body actually wants or needs. If you eat in front of the TV (and let’s face it, who doesn’t), you can be influenced by what you are watching; for example, you might eat more if you tune into Nigella Lawson and significantly less if you’re watching Embarrassing Bodies. You might even keep picking at a meal which you’ve ‘finished’ until a show ends, or there’s an ad break, an opportunity to scrape your plate and get out of ‘eating mode’.

This is why the HAL plays such an important role in some of our studies. Obesity is on the increase, and it contributes to a huge range of diseases, from type 2 diabetes to cancer. There’s an increasing demand on the Pharmaceutical industry to help find solutions to the obesity epidemic. One way to tackle it is to create treatments which reduce the human appetite, and by reducing the number of external stimulus which can affect us, the HAL helps us to establish whether the drug is working. Simple, but effective!

Would you like to eat a meal in the HAL? Give us a call on 0113 394 5200 and ask us about our upcoming food effect studies!