We uncovered a host of incredible research projects that are aimed at helping patients in a variety of ways during the first ever tweetathon at the UCL Institute of Immunity and Transplantation on Wednesday.
Using the hashtag #IITresearch, we posted pictures of researchers who are studying immune-related conditions and discovering ways to help the immune system fight diseases including leukaemia.
These research projects include Harley Buck’s limbal stem cell study, which could help patients with eye injuries, such as acid attack victims. The limbus is part of the eye – it plays a role in ensuring the cornea stays intact and clear so we can see. If this is damaged then the eye can be repaired by transplanting stem cells from the corneas of organ donors, however, in 75% of cases this transplant is rejected by the immune system. Harley is trying to understand why this happens, and to improve the outcome for patients.
We also tweeted information about Olivier Perham’s research – which is aimed at developing a way of boosting the immune system so it is better able to fight cancer. He is looking at how an immune cell can be adapted so that it produces two receptors, instead of one, that can recognise and kill cancerous cells.
The IIT is a medical research centre which brings scientists, doctors, nurses and patients together in one place. This close proximity allows researchers to understand more about disease and the treatments that might bring most benefits to patients.
We are planning to build a new home for the IIT, which will allow us to expand these research projects. This summer we expect to start construction work on the Pears Building, which will house the IIT. Once complete, it will provide additional space and better equipment for the research teams developing new treatments.
Professor Hans Stauss, director of the IIT, said: “There is so much incredible research taking place here at the IIT, so I am really pleased that we were able to publicise some of it this week. We are very keen for the public to learn more about our work.
“Our research is centred around understanding more about how the immune system works, why it sometimes goes wrong, and what can be done to correct it or to help it fight diseases.
“The work being done here is directly benefitting patients - many of the conditions we are studying, such as multiple sclerosis, don’t currently have effective treatments. We are aiming to develop innovative new treatments which will change that.”
You can see all of the tweets from Wednesday here.