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UK aiming to boost regenerative medicine

Authored by James Sheppard

Three of the UK’s leading research councils have pledged £25m to help kick start the regenerative medicine field in the UK. The funding will be used to provide equipment and research for regenerative medicine in a variety of therapeutic areas including: Parkinson’s disease, cardiovascular diseases, wound & musculoskeletal repair, eye disorders and deafness.

Around a fifth of the money will be used to set up a new hub for pluripotent stem cell research as part of the UK Regenerative Medicine Platform (UKRMP). The hub will work with other strands of the UKRMP to tackle some of the critical challenges in developing regenerative medicine treatments from discoveries made in the lab.

The aim of the hub is to lay the foundations for scaling up the production of cell based therapies to an industrial scale. It will develop and set protocols for the manufacturing of cell therapies to meet the regulatory and industrial requirements. Initially the focus will be on two disease areas; Parkinson’s and Deafness, where efforts to develop stem cell therapy are already underway. The hub will be led by the Universities of Sheffield, Loughborough and Cambridge. The hub will collaborate with the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute.

The remaining £20m will be used to support 12 projects across the UK, many of which are linked to on-going projects by the UKRMP. These projects include

>   A new £10m laboratory for the Scottish Centre for Regenerative Medicine

>   A state of the art ‘cell sorter’ for the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology. The technology will provide an important resource to help move projects into clinical trials

>   Provide microscopic imaging equipment and a 3D printer to select UK institutions

UK Government’s Universities and Science Minister, David Willetts, said in a statement ‘Regenerative medicine has the potential to revolutionise the way in which we deliver therapies for a range of diseases and disorders. This new investment will allow our world-class science and research base to explore ways in which new medicines can be manufactured and commercialised.’

This recent investment shows the UKs underlying commitment to advancements in regenerative medicine. This was further outlined in the UK government’s recent report ‘Taking Stock of Regenerative Medicine in the UK.’

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