St Thomas' Hospital is opening the doors of its Clinical Research Facility to the general public. Visitors will meet staff, take a tour of the facilities and see demonstrations of work.
1. Blood flow measurements. An ultrasound scan of the main blood vessels in the neck, including the jugular vein, shows the flow of blood. The significance for heart disease and its prevention will be explained.
2. Blood glucose. How to measure blood glucose using a blood glucose meter, and an opportunity to learn about a healthy diet and exercise to prevent and treat obesity and diabetes.
3. Flow cytometry. Blood circulating round your body contains many components of the immune system, keeping you protected from infections. If your immune system doesn't work properly, you become very ill and your body can also begin to attack itself. Doctors use a technique called flow cytometry to monitor your immune system and show how well it's working.
4. GMP. The Good Manufacturing Production facility is designed to manufacture different types of 'cell therapy'. This involves introducing new cells into patients' bodies to treat a disease. For example T Regulatory Cells, a form of white blood cell, can be used to suppress the immune system after a liver or kidney transplantation rather than conventional immunosuppressive drugs that are more toxic to the patient. An example of the scientific and sterile techniques used to produce these cells will be shown.
Dr Henrieta Fraser, whose T cell research for organ transplantation is planned to start clinical trials by the end of the year, says: "It is very exciting because you can work in a lab for years, have brilliant ideas and publish them, but the real excitement is when you can see that your lab research is going to help people."