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New home for Cancer Genetics

02 December 2010

The new Cancer Genetics buildingThe new Cancer Genetics building

A new flagship building to help the University lead the genetic fight against cancer has been officially opened by the First Minister of Wales, Rt. Hon Carwyn Jones.

The University’s new Cancer Genetics Building – based at the University Hospital of Wales, is a new and dedicated research facility and home to some of Wales’ leading experts in cancer genetics.

The new building provides additional space and facilities for the School of Medicine’s award winning, Institute of Medical Genetics and the department of Genetics, Haematology and Pathology.

University research has already helped identify genes linked to bowel cancer, Huntington’s Disease, muscular dystrophy, tuberous sclerosis and polycystic kidney disease - which are being used in the NHS and abroad, allowing earlier and more accurate diagnosis and increasingly more effective treatments.

New home for Cancer GeneticsFirst Minister of Wales, Rt Hon Carwyn Jones joins Professor Julian Sampson to officially open the new Cancer Genetics Building

Officially opening the new building, First Minister Carwyn Jones said: "I was pleased to be asked to officially open the new Cancer Genetics Building. It is a very exciting development which has great potential to enhance our understanding of the causes of cancer and lead to improved treatment of patients.

"I look forward to hearing about the success of projects undertaken here in the future."

Established in 1987 the Institute of Medical Genetics won the 2007 Queen’s Anniversary Prize for work identifying genetic causes of diseases and developing new diagnostic tests and treatments for them, bringing benefits for patients and their families.

Professor Julian Sampson who heads the University’s Institute of Medical Genetics and the above department, said: "The new Cancer Genetics building offers a real boost for our research and helps enhance our work unravelling the genetic changes and mechanisms that lead to cancer".

"The new facilities will help us to translate the discoveries we make in the lab and shape them into new tests and treatments in patients."

New home for Cancer GeneticsThe new building's fixed louvers are colour-coded to correspond to the sequence of the TSC2 gene, discovered by Cardiff researchers, that causes tuberous sclerosis

One of the major features of the new building will be the bringing together of two key areas of research – genetic research that can identify the genetic (DNA) changes associated with cancer and research into the effects of these genetic changes on proteins within cancer cells.

"Every day the body experiences millions of DNA damaging events within the cells that make up the body," according to Professor Ray Waters and Dr Simon Reed, School of Medicine.

"We can repair much of this damage, but the precise details of how this happens is still unknown. If DNA damage is not repaired it can cause mutation and cancer."

Their work has already led to development of a new patented way of examining DNA damage and repair entire genomes using high resolution microarrays – this novel approach enables scientists to quickly analyse the entire human genome.

The technique could lead to new ways of pre-screening people for responses to specific cancer therapies which damage the DNA in cancer cells.

Professor Waters added: "The wider implications for this research are great – the pharmaceutical and chemical industries could employ it to screen new drugs or chemicals for toxic hazards."

The new building contains over 1500 sq m of floor space and features two laboratory floors that are fully equipped for research that aims to improve the detection, diagnosis and treatment of cancer and inherited disorders that predispose to tumours.

The striking fixed louvres on the new building have been designed to keep the south facing laboratories cool and are colour-coded to correspond to the sequence of the TSC2 gene that was discovered by Cardiff researchers and that causes tuberous sclerosis, an inherited disorder associated with kidney, brain and other tumours.

"This new building will provide a much needed focus for both areas work and it will dramatically stimulate interactions between both groups," Professor Waters added.

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