Sunday, 15 August 2010

The E-Manc-ipation of Miss CoBi

Sleeping past 6.30 was more of a struggle than a luxury, but somehow we managed to stay in bed until 8.30. The night before we had been indulged with a luxury sports massage; a cocktail of pure pleasure and pain potent enough to make the Marquis De Sade blush. The masseur, who went by the unassuming name of Terence, was anything but unassuming, especially with his pummelling fisting on my quads. I writhed, I screamed, I begged for mercy and cried for my mum but after ½ an hour the ordeal ended, the room came back into focus and I felt 100% better.
This morning however my legs pulsed like a supernova and wobbled more than Amy Whinehouse. Terence had foretold this ‘healing process’ so I popped a couple of Coedine and soldiered on.
Breakfast was delicious; I had eggs Benedict, 2 chocolate croissants, fresh orange juice and coffee. It hit the notoriously difficult to find culinary g-spot made so famous by Deep Throats 1 and 2. This was all thanks to the utterly gorgeous Abode Hotel, who were putting us up for two nights free of charge.
We had an 11 o’clock appointment at the Paterson Institute for Cancer Research Centre next door to the Christie Hospital. We were greeted by James, who explained that the Institute conducts all levels of research, from basic research (Which looks at the causes of cancer and the way it works), to transitional research (Looking at how these findings can be applied to specific cancers) and finally clinical research (How this can be developed into treatments and used most effectively). The Institute has a number of leading specialists, in fields such as imaging (Building microscopes) meaning all the resources necessary are on hand and researchers travel from far and wide to work there and use the facilities. James then took us up to the labs where we were given an awesome demonstration by the awesomely enthusiastic Marisa. She took us through an explanation of the work undertaken by Paul Nurse, Leland Hartwell and Tim Hunt that won them the Nobel Prize in 2001. They were looking at the regulation of cell division in yeast, which is used for genetic studies because of its speedy reproduction and simple genetic structure. The explanation culminated in a demonstration using apples and onions, which represented different gene types, with mutations and without. A copy of the presentation will be available to download from the blog soon.
We were then taken further upstairs by Bill, who showed us an outline of the work he does on his whiteboard (Next to a rosette he’d won for some particularly good research). This included his six step plan for eliminating cancer which was:
1.Identify (something that works)
2.Test in vitro
3.Test in vivo
4.Clinical Trials
5.Cure cancer
6.Go Home
His task is at the identification stage, where his team will seek to specifically knock out or over express a cell’s function in order to stop it acting or becoming cancerous. A compound that can replicate this effect is then created by the drug development team and this can then be used in trials, firstly in the lab and then if this works in a clinical environment. We then looked at some of the tissue samples that he’s working with. The cancer cells are immortalised, so some of them have been around for many years. We looked at the cells of a Japanese boy who had had leukaemia in 1983 but there are some tissue cultures that have been around since the 1950s. We finished up with lunch in the director’s office overlooking the new clinical trials wing of the Christie which will be the largest of its kind in Europe. Having it so close to the Institute where the research is being done has huge benefits and it was excellent to have effectively seen all stages of the research process.
After taking the researchers for a quick spin on Miss CoBi, we attempted to storm the world famous Manchester Caribbean festival, but the burly security guard drew our attention to a notice on the entrance gate which read ‘No bikes’ – we could have made quite a convincing argument refuting Miss CoBi’s bike status but it didn’t really seem worth the bloodshed.
We focused on three main areas of Manchester – The Printworks (Italian tourists and shopaholics) Piccadilly Gardens (tramps and families) and Canal Street (homosexuals and disorientated Russians). It was lovely to have such a heady mix of people. There is something quite draining about drunk people but on the plus side they are incredibly generous so we couldn’t really complain, and it was wonderful to have real queens who could actually pull off the royal wave which had eluded us so far.
Our 2 days in Manchester were nearly over, and they would not have been so glorious, indeed the whole ride might not have happened, had it not been for our project manager Sophie. She fed us both nights, and her boyfriend made two beautiful puddings, we really do owe her a massive thank you.

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