The Midlands and Wales Advanced Therapy Treatment Centre (MW-ATTC) invited patients and members of the general public to expand their knowledge of cell and gene therapies as well as their treatments via a live interactive webinar series held in Summer 2021. Over the last decade, new cell, gene and tissue-engineered therapies (known as advanced therapies) have been developed to treat various cancers, inherited diseases and some chronic conditions. They offer opportunities for the treatment of disease and injury, to restore function, and in some cases offer cures.

The series was created in response to feedback from members of PPI (Patient and Public Involvement) groups based at University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Trust, where the MW-ATTC is hosted. Patients and public contributors requested an information event to find out about the latest developments in advanced therapies, which was originally planned as a one-day face to face event. Due to COVID-19 the patient contributors partly redesigned the event into a four-part interactive virtual series, supported by the Centre for Facilitation.

Attendees were introduced to the first session by Professor Philip Newsome, Director of the MW-ATTC, and Dr Ceri Roberts, who provided an overview of the series and explained the basics of these novel therapies. At subsequent sessions experts from across the UK, including Dr Andrew Filer and Dr Leila Khoja, presented in depth discussions regarding the current and prospective use of cell and gene therapies in disease areas such as rheumatoid arthritis and some types of cancer. Participants later gained insight into the ‘bench to bedside’ journey of advanced therapies and were informed of new therapies being considered by the NHS, some of which may even be adopted later this year.

Each session gave attendees the opportunity to ask questions and provide input, which were relayed to the speakers by host Christine Bell in real time. Live polls and a chat function also allowed for an interactive audience experience, and for our speakers to engage directly with each other and with the virtual audience. The last event of the series was also followed by a live networking session whereby patients were invited to converse with other individuals about their own experiences in a friendly virtual environment.

The series received a fantastic response, with feedback ratings from over 30 live viewers giving an average score of 4.7 out of 5. Comments from attendees noted the event for its welcoming atmosphere, appropriate level of information and opportunity for questions to be answered within a session.

We are grateful to the experts and audience members who, together, made the MW-ATTC Advanced Therapies 2021 an event to remember. To find out more about the sessions and watch the webinar recordings on demand, please visit our MW-ATTC Event Portal and MW-ATTC Twitter account (search #AdvancedTherapies2021 on Twitter).