As the NHS turns 70, Petra Kiviniemi delves into the MRC archive to reveal a history of blood donation closely intertwined with the birth of the NHS.
Still from the wartime public information film Blood Transfusion Service*
Every two seconds, someone needs blood. Blood donations help millions of people, and many would not be alive today if it wasn’t for the generosity of donors and care by our NHS.
The experience of being a volunteer blood donor was a very different picture back in the 1920s. Back then, nearly a century ago, and more than 20 years before the birth of the NHS, donations needed to be directly transferred from one person to another.
Professors Irv Weissman and Ravi Majeti at Stanford University and Professor Paresh Vyas at the MRC Molecular Haematology Unit in Oxford, are working on an antibody from the Stanford investigators that enables the immune system to detect and kill cancer cells. They are now testing whether it’s safe and effective for use in people with blood cancer. In this week’s blog they tell us how they collaborated across the Atlantic to get public funding for a project that has led to a spin out with multiple backers and a promising clinical trial.
What if we could make our immune system fight cancer like it fights infection?
These aren’t the only teams in the world grappling with that question but for Professor Irv Weissman and Professor Paresh Vyas, the solution feels tantalisingly close for patients with blood cancer. Read more
Professor Sir David Weatherall laid the last paving slab during construction of the Institute of Molecular Medicine in Oxford 25 years ago, marking the completion of the new unit. Bryony Graham looks into the remarkable career of a man who, aged 80, can still be found at his desk in the institute which now bears his name.
The topping-out ceremony (Image copyright: The Oxford Times)
This photograph, taken in 1988, shows Professor Sir David Weatherall, mallet in hand, ‘topping out’ the Institute of Molecular Medicine in Oxford. The institute had been set up to focus on what he described as “what was rather hopefully called molecular haematology”.
At the time, the relationship between understanding how cells work at the most fundamental level and developing new medical treatments had not been fully appreciated: scientists in the lab and doctors in the clinic remained two different species. Read more