£8.5 million grant funding to boost UK’s regenerative medicine capabilities

£8.5 million grant funding to boost UK’s regenerative medicine capabilities

05 Dec 2011

Fourteen commercially-focused research and development projects that will lead to innovation in regenerative medicines are to benefit from nearly £8.5 million of government grant award funding.

Ten of the collaborative projects will address generic challenges in the development of cell based therapies, and will lead to demonstrators with commercial applicability.  Four projects will engage in the development of regenerative medicine therapeutics. 
The investment in the projects, part of the Technology Strategy Board and Research Councils’ £21.5 million Regenerative Medicine Programme, will see funding from the Technology Strategy Board, the Medical Research Council (MRC), the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). 

The news of funding for these projects comes on the day that the Prime Minister announces a range of measures to boost the UK’s life sciences industry, including setting up a £180 million catalyst fund – to be managed by the Technology Strategy Board and the Medical Research Council – to speed-up the commercialisation of medical discoveries.
Iain Gray, Chief Executive of the Technology Strategy Board, said:

 “The UK is a world leader in regenerative medicine, with a strong academic science base and a  supportive clinical and regulatory environment.  For UK businesses to fulfil their potential in this  field, gaining a commercially competitive edge and exploiting promising discoveries, a number of  development challenges need to be overcome.  This is why we launched the Regenerative  Medicine Programme, to underpin and enable the best regenerative medicine businesses in the  UK and build a connected regenerative medicine community.”

The fourteen projects, which will be undertaken in collaboration with UK academic centres, will be led by: Altrika Ltd, Asymptote Ltd, Cell Medica Ltd, CellSeed Europe Ltd, Cellzome Ltd, ImmunoSolv Ltd, Intercytex Ltd, Kirkstall Ltd, Lonza Biologics, Neotherix Ltd, Orthox Ltd, Plasticell Ltd, Stabilitech Ltd and TAP Biosystems.

The collaborative R&D projects include work that will develop:
- Stem cells treatments to repair corneal damage to the eye that can lead to blindness;
- Novel stem cell manufacturing technologies;
- Cell labelling and tracking technologies for quality control and monitoring in the body;
- Novel "Cell-Sheet" therapy for the treatment of heart failure.

Regenerative medicine is an interdisciplinary approach that spans both the academic – industrial spectrum and the disciplines of tissue engineering, developmental and stem cell biology, gene therapy, cellular therapeutics, biomaterials, nanoscience, bioengineering and chemical biology.  Regenerative medicine has already provided significant medical advances in areas such as skin regeneration for burns patients, and it has the potential to go much further, with next-generation products offering cures or treatments with long-term benefits.

The funding awards follow successful applications by the consortia to two Technology Strategy Board competitions for research and development funding within the Regenerative Medicine Programme.  The challenge set by the Tools and Technologies competition, which was run in partnership with MRC, BBSRC and EPSRC, was to develop enabling platform tools and technologies to overcome key development challenges in safety and efficacy testing and the manufacturing of cell-based regenerative medicine therapeutics.  The challenge of the Developing Therapeutics competition was to enable the preclinical and clinical development of previously identified therapeutic candidates (that can replace or regenerate human cells, tissues or organs to restore or establish normal function) to create regenerative products.

View the press release including editors notes here.

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Last updated on Tuesday 06 December 2011 at 11:52

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