Skip to content
Skip to navigation menu


Flagship centre helps Wales lead genetic cancer fight

02 December 2010

A new flagship research centre to help Wales lead the genetic fight against cancer will be officially opened by the First Minister of Wales, Rt. Hon Carwyn Jones. (Thursday 2nd December).

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

The new building provides additional space and facilities for Cardiff University’s award winning Institute of Medical Genetics.

Their research work has already identified genes linked to bowel cancer and Huntington’s Disease which are being used in the NHS, allowing earlier and more accurate diagnosis and increasingly more effective treatments.

The new facilities will help support further research into conditions like Tuberous Sclerosis Complex (TSC). TSC is a condition which results in tumours in the brain, heart and kidneys which leads to epilepsy, autism and severe learning disabilities.

Cardiff University’s Institute of Medical Genetics has a long standing association with TSC research advancement along with patients and their families. The team, led by Professor Julian Sampson, was part of a collaborative group which first identified the TSC genes, developing new accurate diagnostic tests and thereafter trials for potential treatment.

First Minister Carwyn Jones, who will join experts from Cardiff University’s Institute of Medical Genetics, cancer charities and families of patients who have benefitted from the research to officially open the new building, 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."

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.

Professor Julian Sampson who heads Cardiff University’s Institute of Medical Genetics, 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."

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.

One of the key 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.

Scientists at Cardiff University are already leaders in the analysis of DNA damage and its repair.

"Every day the body experiences millions of DNA damaging events within the cells that make up the body," according to Professor Ray Waters from Cardiff University’s 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."

Professor Waters’ work has already led to development of a new way of examining DNA damage and repair entire genomes using high resolution microarrays – this new technique enables scientists to quickly analyse the entire human genome.

The new 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.

"This new building will provide a much needed focus for this work."



Further information, to attend and film at the launch, or for details of a case study of a family, whose son has Tuberous Sclerosis Complex (TSC) and has benefitted from the research, please contact:

Chris Jones
Public Relations
Cardiff University
Tel: 029 20 874731

Cardiff University
Cardiff University is recognised in independent government assessments as one of Britain’s leading teaching and research universities and is a member of the Russell Group of the UK’s most research intensive universities. Among its academic staff are two Nobel Laureates, including the winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize for Medicine, University President Professor Sir Martin Evans.

Founded by Royal Charter in 1883, today the University combines impressive modern facilities and a dynamic approach to teaching and research. The University’s breadth of expertise in research and research-led teaching encompasses: the humanities; the natural, physical, health, life and social sciences; engineering and technology; preparation for a wide range of professions; and a longstanding commitment to lifelong learning.

Three major new Research Institutes, offering radical new approaches to neurosciences and mental health, cancer stem cells and sustainable places were announced by the University in 2010.