A £60 million building has opened which will be home to scientists investigating the human immune system.

The Pears Building at The Royal Free Hospital becomes the new UCL Institute of Immunity and Transplantation (IIT).

The building will allow scientists to work with medical staff and patients to work on new treatments that can be developed more quickly for global health problems.

The institute will not only bring the theory and implementation of research much closer together but will also allow the public easy access to the latest discoveries in immunology research.

Pradip Patel, who lives in Southgate, is hoping research carried out at the IIT could transform outcomes for patients like him in the future.

In 2017, Mr Parel had a kidney transplant at the Royal Free Hospital – a childhood infection had scarred his kidneys so by his late 50s they had stopped working properly.

The surgery went well but a couple of days later Mr Patel began experiencing severe stomach pains.

His immune system saw the new kidney as a 'foreign object' and had started attacking it. This is known as graft rejection and is a recognised risk to patients following a transplant operation.

Mr Patel had to undergo two further operations in the space of a few days and was given powerful drugs to suppress his immune system, as well as dialysis to ensure waste products would continue to be removed from his bloodstream until the new kidney started working properly.

After recovering his health, the patient was determined to help the doctors who had transformed his life and organised a charity golf event which raised £16,000 which was donated to the institute.

Mr Patel said: "After having three operations in a short period of time, it took me months to recover. After recovering my health I was determined to help in some way.

"If we can stop graft rejection happening to other patients that would be a really positive step forward."

Reza Motallebzadeh is one of the IIT researchers looking for ways to prevent graft rejection in transplant patients. His work focuses on microorganisms in the gut, known as the microbiome, which is linked to the behaviour of the immune system.

He said: "We know that the gut microbiome plays an important role in regulating the immune system, but we want to understand more about what it does in relation to influencing the immune response to a kidney transplant. Our aim is to discover whether we might be able to alter the microbiome to decrease the chance of graft rejection.

"With the IIT next door to the Royal Free Hospital, it means researchers and clinicians can work closely together and with patients to ensure our research can lead to new treatments more quickly and can reap the greatest benefits to patients.”

Professor Hans Stauss, director of UCL Institute of Immunity and Transplantation, said: "The IIT is dedicated to the patient-focused research of the human immune system.

"The facilities in the new building will help us develop treatments to ‘turn up’ the immune system to respond to a threat from, say, a coronavirus, or to recognise cancer cells as a danger. We also explore ‘turning down’ the immune system in order to stop the rejection of transplanted organs and to treat autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis.

"The final cluster of our research is around different inherited conditions, such as primary immunodeficiencies, in which faulty genes affect how the body’s immune system works."