BIS taking a snapshot of regenerative medicine in the UK

Posted on January 31, 2011 by

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Back in November, the UK National Stem Cell Network announced that it was planning to conduct a stock-take of regenerative medicine in the UK (see my earlier post here). Today they have kicked off this review with a questionnaire, calling for those in the know to write in with their perspectives on what is working and what isn’t, where the science is headed and where better policy could support progress. The deadline is 11 March, all the details are here.

What do they want to know about?

BIS has published a 15 question questionnaire exploring:

  • where regenerative medicine is and where it is headed, who is doing it and how and what scientists think it’s potential might be over the coming years
  • How well advances in regenerative medicine are being translated into making medicines and treatments which have the potential to help people, and how well commercial opportunities are being identified and taken
  • And how well the medicines and treatments that are being developed are being got into clinics where they can be used to treat people, exploring what barriers there might be to that. They also ask specifically for views on whether the improvements identified by the academy of medical sciences recent review of research regulation (see here) would improve the situation for regenerative medicine.

Why do medical research charities care?

Regenerative medicine is the process of creating living, functional tissues to repair or replace tissue or organ function lost due to damage, or congenital defects. Lots of medical conditions are the result of damaged tissues and organs which the body can’t heal itself, so as we get better at it, regenerative medicine offers huge potential to treat people with these conditions. This huge potential means medical research charities, focused on getting the best for their patients and supporters, are really interested in and fund regenerative medicine.

The British Heart Foundation Mending Broken Hearts campaign is focused on raising money for research into regenerative medicine (with amazing research using zebrafish who’ve cracked regeneration and have hearts that heal themselves, check out the great pictures). Over the coming years, they aim to invest £50 million in world-leading stem cell research and developmental biology to see whether we can repair or replace damaged or dead heart tissue with new, healthy, functioning heart tissue.

Posted in: Policy