Established in 2013 by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Medical Research Council (MRC), the UKRMP is a £42m initiative that is addressing the key translational challenges of regenerative medicine.
The first tranche of funding (£25m) supported five interdisciplinary and complementary research Hubs from 2013-2018, which drew together the major players in UK regenerative medicine
Cell behaviour, differentiation and manufacturing
Engineering and exploiting the stem cell niche
Safety and efficacy, focusing on imaging technologies
Acellular (smart material) approaches for therapeutic delivery
During that time the Platform established several key research programmes which made substantial progress in the areas of neural regeneration in Parkinson’s Disease, liver repair, retinal degeneration and bone and joint repair. The Platform has also generated research tools and materials such as characterised cell lines, cell scaffolds and reagants for cell targeting and tracking, as well as providing training and support for a wide range of imaging modalities and manufacturing processes.
£17m supports the second phase of the Platform (‘UKRMP2’) from 2018-2023. UKRMP2 continues to address outstanding key challenges and opportunities in regenerative medicine.
The UKRMP2 Platform has an evolved and consolidated structure of three Hubs that captures and builds on the strengths of the UKRMP1. The three Hub themes are:
Pluripotent stem cell biology
Considered to be a major strength of the UK, which may include recent developments / enabling technologies such as gene editing and synthetic/ designer cells;
Engineered cell environment
The niche, activation of endogenous regenerative processes through small molecules, consideration of the extracellular matrix and cytokines;
With particular focus on 3D architecture and the need to support vascularisation for functional integration of transplanted cells or tissue.
The areas of quality control (of cells/differentiation and product analysis), immunology, safety and manufacturing are positioned as cross-cutting elements across all three Hub themes, demonstrating the importance of these key topics across the Platform.
The Hubs all focus on specific diseases for which treatment options are unavailable or limited. Nevertheless, rather than directly pursuing clinical trials, the Platform is seeking to unlock scientific knowledge and produce tools, reagents and approaches which are applicable to a broad range of diseases. Finally, it will continue to provide a national resource that can be utilised by other UK research groups in both academia and industry.