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Five million steps

Press release issued: 15 June 2001

Five million steps to Istanbul

On Tuesday [May 1], 73-year-old Louis Woolfson will put on his walking boots and take the first of five million steps to Istanbul. The 2,000-mile walk is to raise money for vital research at Bristol University funded by the Foundation for Children with Leukaemia.

Louis will set off from Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, and walk through Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria on his journey to Istanbul.

Louis, who lives in Hereford, designed Braillewriter, the first portable talking computer for the blind. It was after meeting Bob Woodward, who has helped raise £25 million for cancer over 25 years, that Louis chose to raise money for research at Bristol. The walk will be completed in two stages with Louis reaching Istanbul in October.

The Foundation for Children with Leukaemia funds two key areas of research at the University: the Cord Blood Stem Cell Transplantation programme at Southmead Hospital, and research into links between certain environmental factors and leukaemia.

The Cord Blood Stem Cell Transplantation programme is headed by three Bristol University academics: Ben Bradley, Professor of Transplantation Sciences; Jill Hows, Professor of Clinical Haematology and a world expert on bone marrow transplants; and Dr Jeffrey Bidwell, Reader in Molecular Immunogenetics.

The aim of the Cord Blood Stem Cell Transplantation programme is to research the treatment of leukaemia patients through the use of cord blood from umbilical cords and placentas, which are usually discarded. Doctors are able to use as little as one syringe of cord blood to help a sick child. Cord blood is rich in stem cells that create bone marrow, which in turn creates healthy blood for a whole lifetime.

Denis Henshaw, Professor of Physics, and Dr Alan Preece, Reader in Oncology, are conducting ground-breaking research into links between leukaemia and particular environmental factors. Investigations into the records of patients from the south west and Wales are helping the researchers gain a clearer understanding of the environmental factors in areas where the number of leukaemia cases is high. Research is also being carried out into the association between high-voltage power lines and childhood cancers.

Professor Hows said: 'I cannot thank Louis enough for supporting our research programme. Cord blood is an exciting new source of transplantable stem cells that could be used to cure patients with leukaemia. The money raised from the walk will enable us to take one more step towards making leukaemia a disease of the past.'

Professor Henshaw, added: 'I wish Louis every success on his walk. The Foundation for Children with Leukaemia have given substantial financial support to my research over many years. Their support has enabled me to continue to study the possible association between powerlines and childhood leukaemia. '

Copyright: 2001 The University of Bristol, UK
Updated: Friday, 15-Jun-2001 10:50:47 BST

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