News archive 2009
Outstanding assisted conception unit opens24 Apr 2009, PR 80/09
A £4 million assisted conception unit, a joint collaboration between King’s College London and Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital Foundation Trust, was officially opened yesterday by Health Minister Dawn Primarolo.
The Unit, which runs the largest and most successful preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) programme in the UK, offers a full range of fertility services through to treatment for NHS and self-funding patients.
PGD is a specialised treatment for couples who carry an inherited genetic condition such as cystic fibrosis, sickle cell disease or Huntington’s Disease, that could cause serious health problems for their children.
Families with children born through in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment or following preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) were among the guests present at the opening.
Professor Peter Braude, Head of Women’s Health and director of the PGD programme, said: ‘We were the first centre in the UK to derive embryonic stem cells for research and also developed a new procedure, PGH (preimplantation genetic haplotyping), which has increased the number of families we can help by testing for serious inherited diseases.'
The state-of-the-art laboratories are among only a few in this country fully compliant with the EU Tissue and Cells Directive with rigorous clean air handling, temperature and gas control and backup alarms. In addition there are integral stem cell laboratories that will allow the derivation of stem cells for therapeutic use. The new facility has been opened with grants from the Medical Research Council, Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity and the College.
‘We are proud that our success rates for PGD significantly exceed those reported by the European PGD consortium. One in three couples in whom we find healthy embryos after testing can expect to become pregnant using this technique. So far we have provided treatment for over 600 couples and have nearly 200 babies born, making us the most experienced and successful unit in the UK.
‘These new laboratories should enable us to stay ahead in infertility treatment and PGD, and to work closely with the UK Stem Cell Bank to advance the science of stem cell therapy and regenerative medicine.’
The clinical and research facilities are complemented by a range of paintings, collages and photographs, commissioned by Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity arts and heritage programme as part of its commitment to enhance all new capital projects with site specific art.
Photographer Gina Glover spent a year-long residency in the unit attending meetings, studying samples through microscopes and asking staff about the ethical decisions facing them every day, so her artwork reflects ideas relevant to assisted conception. One piece, Sperm Morphology, is assembled from ties belonging to staff arranged to show the variations in human sperm structure. The collection helped Gina win the coveted Royal Photographic Society's medal for photography advances in public service.
Mr Yacoub Khalaf, Clinical Director of the ACU, said: ‘We are delighted with our new facility and look forward to building on our excellent reputation and continuing to lead the field in terms of research and technical advancement in fertility and genetic diagnosis.
'It is important that our patients feel relaxed and calm throughout their treatment. The unit offers welcoming and calming surroundings for them, while providing the latest in clinical excellence and innovation.’
[Image by Gina Glover]
Notes to editors
King's College London
King's College London is one of the top 25 universities in the world (Times Higher Education 2008) and the fourth oldest in England. A research-led university based in the heart of London, King's has more than 21,000 students from nearly 140 countries, and more than 5,700 employees. King's is in the second phase of a ?1 billion redevelopment programme which is transforming its estate.
King's has an outstanding reputation for providing world-class teaching and cutting-edge research. In the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise for British universities, 23 departments were ranked in the top quartile of British universities; over half of our academic staff work in departments that are in the top 10 per cent in the UK in their field and can thus be classed as world leading. The College is in the top seven UK universities for research earnings and has an overall annual income of nearly £450 million.
King's has a particularly distinguished reputation in the humanities, law, the sciences (including a wide range of health areas such as psychiatry, medicine and dentistry) and social sciences including international affairs. It has played a major role in many of the advances that have shaped modern life, such as the discovery of the structure of DNA and research that led to the development of radio, television, mobile phones and radar. It is the largest centre for the education of healthcare professionals in Europe; no university has more Medical Research Council Centres.
King's College London and Guy's and St Thomas', King's College Hospital and South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trusts are part of King's Health Partners. King's Health Partners Academic Health Sciences Centre (AHSC) is a pioneering global collaboration between one of the world's leading research-led universities and three of London's most successful NHS Foundation Trusts, including leading teaching hospitals and comprehensive mental health services. For more information, visit: www.kingshealthpartners.org.
Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital Foundation Trust
Guy's and St Thomas' provides around ¾ million patient contacts in acute and specialist hospital services every year. As one of the biggest NHS Trusts in the UK, it employs over 9,000 staff. The Trust works in partnership with the Schools of Medicine, Dentistry, Nursing and Biomedical Sciences of King's College London and other Higher Education Institutes to deliver high quality education and research. Website: www.guysandstthomas.nhs.uk.
Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity
Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity invests in improvements to the NHS in Lambeth and Southwark. Beneficiaries include Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, Lambeth and Southwark Primary Care Trusts, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and their academic research partners such as King's College London. Find out more on the Charity's website: www.gsttcharity.org.uk
Kate Moore, Public Relations Officer (Health Schools)
Public Relations Department
Tel: 020 7848 4334
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