Pioneering new research centre at Royal Free searching for HIV and Cancer cures
17:02 19 November 2012
Groundbreaking new treatments which have never been available in Europe will be trialled at the Royal Free Hospital next year offering hope to people suffering from diseases such as cancer and HIV.
The multi-million pound Institute of Immunity, Infection and Transplantation, is teaming up with University College London to build the specialist unit at the Royal Free in Pond Street.
Patients will have the chance to take part in clinical trails for drugs that are not yet available in the country.
Work on the first phase of the centre is due to be completed in April next year and it will be fully operational by June.
Professor Hans Stauss, who is head of clinical immunology at the Royal Free and head of UCL research department of immunology, said the new centre was unique in Britain.
He said: “It’s quite rare you get leaders of research to work with patients and then actually take the research back and try the new therapies with the patients.
“The philosophy of the institute is that people will come here and have access to novel studies that are not anywhere else.
“Some of these treatments will be rolled out and made available to the rest of the country.”
All researchers at the institute will be employed by the top university.
Professor Stauss said: “In terms of world universities, UCL is always in the top 10 and some see it as the third in the world.
“It’s a centre for biomedicine and developing new research methods.”
One of the first trials to take place will involve a new treatment which hopes to minimise the need for intense chemotherapy for those with cancer.
“There is one centre in America that already uses it and it’s had some success but it hasn’t been used in Europe,” Professor Stauss explained.
The institute will also be researching a vaccine which patients are given before transplant operations to help fight off infections.
“Viruses in transplant patients can cause big problems.
“The vaccine means that transplant patients will have less problems with viruses and won’t need to take expensive medicines.”
The centre will also research treatments for infections such as hepatitis and tuberculosis as well as auto-immune diseases like diabetes, scleroderma and inflammatory bowel diseases.
Professor Stauss said information about the trials will be made available to patients so they can choose whether or not they want to take part.
“We will have information boards so patients know what research studies are going on and patients can speak with doctors and have the choice to participate.”
The first phase of building work involves the refurbishment of an area on the second floor to create state-of-the art laboratories and a clinical space.
The Royal Free Charity has launched a £22 million fundraising campaign to expand the unit in the future.