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Thalassaemia Day seminar

Thalassaemia Day was marked by a seminar organised last month by the Thalassaemia Clinic, the Laboratory of Molecular Genetics of the University of Malta and the Department of Health with the support of Novartis.

Thalassaemia is an inherited disorder of the blood. It decreases the amount of haemoglobin the body can make, resulting in anaemia. It can be life threatening if untreated.

One particular treatment is multiple blood transfusions. However, this can lead to iron overload (increased iron levels) with unpleasant side effects, posing a challenge to the Health Care team. In fact, this year's theme for the seminar was "Iron Chelation and Overload".

Professor John Rizzo Naudi, Chancellor of the University, opened the seminar by giving a historical overview of thalassaemia services in Malta. Dr Christian Scerri, molecular geneticist, then spoke on the treatment of transfusion-induced haemosiderosis, and on the challenges facing the health care team in striking a balance between therapy and possible side effects.

Dr Mario Farrugia, a consultant physician with the Thalassaemia Clinic, presented a very interesting paper on a couple of cases of thalassaemia.

Professor Alex E. Felice, head of the Molecular Genetics Laboratory, concluded the seminar by briefly describing the work being carried out at the laboratory on thalassaemia and other haemoglobinopathies. He described the course of current research that may help to understand gene control and improve patient care.

The seminar was finished by a short discussion and a reception.

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