Tissue Engineering Offers Hope for Millions
The Grand Charity has approved a grant of £50,000 to support the Imperial College Tissue Engineering Centre in this important research work.
Injury and diseases of
the skeleton cause untold suffering because the skeleton is the framework that supports the body and enables us to deal with everyday stresses and strains. There is no
Current treatments using biphosphonates and anabolic steroids cause unacceptable side-effects. Bones and
joints damaged by injury
and disease are currently repaired by bone or cartilage grafts, fixation devices
and prostheses. But these methods are high maintenance and often require further surgery (for example, second hip replacements).
Tissue engineering is
a branch of science that is beginning to provide new answers. It is a relatively new multidisciplinary science that develops methods for growing tissues outside the body. These new tissues can
be implanted back into the body to restore or replace
the function of damaged or diseased tissues.
The general principle involves combining living cells with a natural or synthetic scaffold to produce a three-dimensional living tissue construct, which mimics the tissue it has been designed to replace.
This can make tissues grow in such a way that they more precisely match the requirements of the individual in terms of size, shape and immunological compatibility, minimising the need for further treatment.
Professor Julia Polak, Director of Imperial College Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine Centre, says: 'Degenerative diseases affecting the skeleton, such as osteoporosis, affect millions of people in the UK.
'A recent Lancet article predicts an increase in the incidence of such diseases as more and more of us
live to late old age. We are developing techniques which encourage the body's own regenerative processes by repopulating diseased bone with healthy cells.
'The support of the
Grand Charity is vital in giving us the flexibility we need to develop this groundbreaking technology.'
New Masonic Samaritan Fund Achieves Record Year
There are two good reasons to celebrate a wonderful year for the New Masonic Samaritan Fund.
For the first time, the level of funding granted to applicants
exceed £3m and the Province of Staffordshire achieved the magnificent total of £2,539,294. The support provided by the Fund, which is only made possible by the generosity of so many, continues to be of immediate and real benefit to those who are sick and in need.
During the past financial year the Petitions Committee of the Fund approved support to 524 individuals. Many have heartwarming stories to tell and many have written to express their thanks.
One letter in particular serves to highlight not only the benefits of the support provided by the Fund, but also the increasing benefits of cooperation between the charities.
During a recent presentation to Lodge almoners by a member of staff from the Fund, publicity was given to the Grand Charity Grant in support of drug treatment for degenerative diseases. As a result of a
question raised at that presentation, a 45-year-old MS sufferer is now being funded for the supply of beta interferon seven years after the NHS assessed him as a suitable candidate for treatment.
Success in this particular case was only possible due to the tenacity of the almoner who thought to raise the case in the first place. As the applicant himself said: 'It is with the utmost gratitude and heartfelt thanks that I am writing to you for allowing me the opportunity to have Beta Interferon Treatment for my MS.
'It is now some seven years since I was assessed and deemed a prime candidate for this treatment. Since then my wife, my family and myself have tried many avenues in order to get the drug.
'My case has been raised on radio, TV, newspapers and ultimately in Parliament... all
to no avail. I have even heard that my name has been in newspapers as far away as Canada, but alas I am not unique, as many hundreds have fought the same fight.
'With grateful thanks and the help of your organisation, I am due to start the treatment within days. During the last seven years I have become increasingly more disabled and my world has become smaller, hopefully this treatment will arrest this downward spiral.'
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