Search

Lab-grown organs, HIV vaccines and cures for cancer: Royal Free open day shows off pioneering research

18:00 03 July 2014

Professor Alex Seifalian, Professor Hans Stauss and Professor Lucy Walker from the Institute of Immunology and Transplantation at the Royal Free Hospital show off an ear created in their labs. Picture: Polly Hancock

Professor Alex Seifalian, Professor Hans Stauss and Professor Lucy Walker from the Institute of Immunology and Transplantation at the Royal Free Hospital show off an ear created in their labs. Picture: Polly Hancock

Archant

Ground-breaking research into developing lab-grown organs, cures for cancer and a vaccine for HIV were shown off at a £54million research centre at the Royal Free on Friday – as it celebrated its first anniversary since being opened by Prince Andrew.

The UCL Institute for Immunology and Transplantation, based at the hospital in Pond Street, put on a series of public talks and interactive displays as it continues towards its goal of 
becoming Europe’s leading immunology research hub.

The institute was opened in June last year and is now in the early stages of beginning its next phase – a £42m building it hopes will be constructed on the car park site next to Hampstead Green.

Prof Hans Stauss, director of the institute, said: “There is a huge amount of work being carried out at the institute which we hope will make a difference to patients with a wide variety of illnesses. The next phase will allow us the space to truly develop a multi-disciplinary team – expanding our number of researchers from 40 to 200.”

Scientists already based at the institute have produced a number of world-firsts as a result of their research. This includes lab-built tear ducts, 3D printed ears and noses and tailor-built coronary arteries.

One area gaining worldwide attention has been the research on nanotechnology and tissue engineering.

The team has worked on fluorescent dyes that can be injected into the blood to show cancerous growths, magnetic nanoparticles that can enter cancer cells and destroy them when activated and even 3D printed scaffolds of replacement organs. Prof Alexander Seifalian, leading the team, made world headlines in 2011 after building the first synthetic windpipe combined with stem cells.

It saved the life of a 36-year-old Icelandic patient.

“I remember the surgeon contacting me saying his patient had about 10 days to live,” he said.

“They had looked all over the world for help. So I agreed to build him a trachea and went rushing around art shops in Hampstead, buying clay and creating moulds.

“The transplant was a success and with this procedure, others who suffer from tracheal cancer won’t have to wait for a suitable donor organ.

“I find this work the most exciting part of medicine. Being able to convert a standard CT scan into body parts that fit the patient perfectly – it’s truly ground-breaking.”

Prof Seifalian’s team will be conducting trials with scientists in Mumbai later this year to implant lab-manufactured ears onto human patients and in September they will be conducting the world’s first trial to implant their self-built coronary arteries.

As organs are grown in the labs, next door other researchers are looking to unlock the power of the body’s own immune system to combat illnesses.

Last month the hospital made world headlines after a skin cancer patient given just months to live appeared to have been cured by a drug preventing cancers shielding themselves from the immune system.

Dr Emma Morris, a lead researcher in this field, said: “Medicine is completely different to when I was a medical student 30 years ago.

“It’s very exciting for all of us here. Working together we can get the chance to truly understand how the immune system works.”

And as this team works to unlock cures for cancer, yet another is working to develop immunity against HIV.

Treatments for diabetes, scleroderma, common virus, and kidney and liver disease are all being developed by the multi-disciplinary institute.

As one researcher noted: “With so much great research going on, the next 10 to 20 years will be a great time to be around the Royal Free.”

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Hampstead Highgate Express visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Hampstead Highgate Express staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Hampstead Highgate Express account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Latest News Stories

43 minutes ago
Ambulance

A man has been arrested on suspicion of drunk and dangerous driving and failing to stop after a 25-year-old died in a car crash outside Camden Road station on Sunday morning.

Yesterday, 09:00
International cosmetic surgery expert Cindy Jackson and Ian Carmichael, the Queen’s personal hair stylist, will both be speaking at the event at Lauderdale House

Highgate resident and international cosmetic surgery expert Cindy Jackson is helping Lauderdale House raise funds for a building project to transform its future.

Fri, 19:51
Naushad Faruk. Picture: Central News.

A glamour model from Camden sobbed as she described how a cameraman persuaded her to engage in a sex act with him by threatening to take away the Chihuahua puppy he had given her as a gift.

Fri, 18:40
Jihadi John

The secondary school that ISIS executioner ‘Jihadi John’ attended in St John’s Wood has said it is ‘shocked and sickened by the news’.

Most read news

Property Newsletter Sign-up

The latest North London property news and features straight into your inbox.

Other Emails:
Fields marked with a * are mandatory
Email Marketing by e-shot

Technology experts have been giving their verdict on the first big smartphone offerings of 2015.

The Korean smartphone giants made the announcement at their Unpacked event ahead of Mobile World Congress.

Smartphone giant has announced the new flagship One M9 ahead of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Digital Edition

Image
Read the Hampstead & Highgate Express e-edition today E-edition
Family Notices 24
Our trusted business finder