Regenerative medicine is an interdisciplinary approach spanning tissue engineering, developmental and stem cell biology, gene therapy, cellular therapeutics, biomaterials (scaffolds and matrices), nanoscience, bioengineering and chemical biology. It may involve:
- transplantation of stem cells, progenitors or tissue;
- stimulation of dormant repair processes;
- using cells as delivery vehicles for therapeutic agents;
- engineered cells / synthetic biology.
Regenerative medicine has already provided significant medical advances in areas such as skin regeneration for burns patients and diabetic ulcers and the treatment of anaemia, and has the potential to go much further with next-generation products offering treatments with long term benefits or cures. The underpinning science is progressing rapidly, yet there are a number of developmental challenges which need to be overcome if we are to successfully translate promising discoveries for the benefit of patients as well as the UK economy. These are elaborated upon in the Research Council/TSB Strategy for UK Regenerative Medicine, published on 28th March 2012.
As a response to these translational requirements, and to ensure that research addressing regenerative medicine connects seamlessly from discovery science through to clinical and commercial application, BBSRC, EPSRC and MRC are together establishing a UK Regenerative Medicine Platform (UKRMP) with the goals of:
- establishing interdisciplinary research hubs with the critical mass and expertise to address the key knowledge-gaps in the translation of stem cell and regenerative biology towards application;
- providing the novel tools, platform technologies and engineering solutions needed for therapeutic development;
- creating a world-leading and fully connected national programme to pull through excellent discovery science in support of the commercial development and clinical delivery of regenerative medicine products.
This will be delivered in two phases, with the initial funding for the interdisciplinary research hubs to be allocated in the first quarter of 2013, followed by a call to establish complementary disease-focused research programmes later that year.
The UKRMP will operate in close cooperation with the newly established TSB Cell Therapy Catapult, as well as research charities and other stakeholders, and through the linkage provided will seek to ensure that the UK operates as a single, globally competitive cluster in this area.
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