My PhD project involves the collection of blood from BONJ patients (cases) and those who are on bisphosphonates but are free from the jaw disease (controls). DNA will then be extracted and analysed by an advanced technique known as microarray. Its results will look something similar to the picture on the right side of the banner above. Isn’t it beautiful?
Our patients have been enthusiastic in participating in the research when they know that the project is to find out the genetic cause of BONJ. So far, we have recruited hundreds of participants from Italy, Spain, Sweden, Japan and the UK, and hopefully more collaborating centres in future including my home town, Hong Kong.
Many of our blood donors are cancer patients as bisphosphonates is used to treat skeletal complications of bone metastases and multiple myeloma. Regrettably, I found out that one of our previous subjects had passed away due to cancer. Her precious blood was collected some time before her death and is now stored in our freezer with many other samples.
To me, the patients are heroes: they are sick, many of them fighting hard against cancer, and yet they still want to contribute towards solving BONJ. As a researcher, I do not see their blood as just tissue samples, but invaluable donation from some remarkable individuals.
Salute to my patients!
Note: Potential collaborators and bisphosphonates patients who are interested, please feel free to contact me via firstname.lastname@example.org.