CRUK Gibraltar Committee visit the BCI

Bethan Warman Posted in General News, Engagement 18 July 2018

Ana CRUK lab tour 1Dr Ana Rio-Machin showing Giovi and Deborah around the laboratory
We were recently visited by two members of the CRUK Gibraltar Committee, Giovi and Deborah, who came to the BCI for a laboratory tour with Dr Ana Rio-Machin, a postdoctoral researcher in the Centre for Haemato-Oncology. Ana’s research focuses on leukaemia, a type of blood cancer in which patients present an abnormal growth of white blood cells.

Following an introduction to the work that is conducted here to help better understand and treat leukaemia, provided by Ana’s supervisor, Prof Jude Fitzgibbon, Giovi and Deborah visited the laboratories to see where this research takes place.

Giovi said:

Since we are not based on the UK mainland we feel really privileged to have been given such an opportunity to visit the work of CRUK. We strongly believe in the importance of raising vital funds for the groundbreaking research which CRUK supports and this most inspiring visit brings reality to how the fundraising is used.

Both Deborah and I were fascinated to witness the passion with which Ana and the research teams carry out their work at first hand, and thanks to them our fundraising efforts are made all the more worthwhile.

Ana CRUK lab tour 2
From left to right: Deborah, Ana and Giovi

Leukaemia is diagnosed in approximately 9,900 individuals in the UK annually. Although the majority of leukaemia cases are sporadic (occur randomly), in about 5% of cases, two or more members of a family are found to be affected. This is known as familial leukaemia, and is often more aggressive and appears at an earlier age than sporadic cases. This type of leukaemia may occur because a genetic error (mutation) is passed down from one generation to another.

Ana and other researchers are working on detecting the inherited genetic error in family members so that cancer development can be detected and treated earlier, or even prevented. In addition, the team study cases of sporadic leukaemia with poor prognosis to identify mutations and altered molecular pathways that are present in the cancer. By doing this, they endeavour to better understand the disease in order to identify more suitable and effective treatments for these patients, in an approach known as personalised or precision medicine.

Ana's visit to CRUK Gibraltar

At the end of last year, Ana travelled to Gibraltar to meet the CRUK Gibraltar Committee. Whilst there, Ana visited the newly established Chemotherapy Unit at St Bernard’s Hospital, and spoke with the local community and medical professionals about the research that she undertakes here at the BCI. Ana also met the Mayor of Gibraltar at the CRUK 50th Anniversary Reception.

Ana said of her visit to Gibraltar:

The visit was a wonderful experience. It gave me the chance to get to know the generous and fantastic work that the CRUK Gibraltar Committee is doing. Also, it was an absolute honour to be able to share my work with the amazing people from Gibraltar. I had a terrific time there and I’m looking forward to my next visit in September.

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