On the 30th June a VHL UK/Ireland support and information meeting was held in the Bateson Centre in the University of Sheffield.
A group headed by Dr. Freek van Eeden, a Dutch scientist, who is studying this disease and the function of the VHL gene presented aspects of their work to the group.
Dr. van Eeden says:
Perhaps rather surprisingly, we are using an unusual laboratory animal, the tiny zebrafish embryo. We were hoping to convince our visitors that zebrafish is nevertheless a very exciting tool to help us understand why VHL is such an important gene and we tried to explain some new ideas of how one might be able to screen for novel drugs that could target the symptoms of this disease. (I hope we didn’t use too much jargon!!).
We had a great exhibition where VHL patients and family members could experience a flavour of the work that is going on in the Centre:
- Fluorescent zebrafish VHL mutants in the “Pod”;
- Drosophila (fruit-fly) work (and smells!) by Iwan Evans.
- Ffion Hammond did a tour through our fish facility and even taught a few people to do a successful microinjection of zebrafish eggs!
I would like to thank all people involved:
Davide Marchi, Rosemary Kim, Eleanor Markham, Steve Renshaw, Iwan Evans, Ffion Hammond and Philippa Carr for their willingness to offer up a glorious blue-skied Saturday in order to present our work to patients.
Most importantly, I also would like to thank the patients for being there and sharing their experience, for all of us it was really inspiring to talk to you!! I really strengthened our resolve to work hard to translate our knowledge to new therapeutic approaches.
The charity would also like to add its thanks to everyone at the Bateson Centre and everyone who attended on the day – it was an eye-opening experience for us all and even though we might not have understood everything that was said, just to see this kind of research actually taking place was amazing!