A science student has made a special trip to Parliament to unveil her ground-breaking research into the growth of stem cells.
Hannah Taylor presented the findings to politicians and peers at a reception for young researchers during National Science Week. The 21 year old, who is studying for a degree in biochemistry, worked with scientists from Kingston University and St George's Hospital Medical School to develop her research project. The team looked at ways of taking stem cells from umbilical cords and growing them to treat patients with ailments such as Alzheimer's, heart disease and diabetes.
"In the past, stem cells have only been grown using animal blood products, which may have caused infections such as mad cow disease, so they haven't been considered for use on humans," Hannah said.
"We have now developed a way of growing cells under new conditions without using animal blood products which could lead to a breakthrough in the treatment of certain illnesses. The research had important implications," Hannah said. "It had the potential, for example, to eliminate the need for some heart attack victims to undergo a transplant.
When people have a heart attack, the blood vessels tighten up and some of the blood stops flowing through part of the heart. Taking these cells and pinpricking them into heart muscle, helps to regenerate blood flow without the need for a transplant," she explained.
Although Kingston students have been to Westminster to present research before, Hannah is the first undergraduate to have such an honour. Reader in Life Sciences Dr Colin McGuckin, who worked on the project with Hannah, said she was an outstanding student. "She has an exceptionally bright future in medical research when she graduates," he said.