The Technology Strategy Board (TSB) and the four leading research councils (MRC, EPSRC, BBSRC and ESRC) have released a new five-year strategy for regenerative medicine research and development in the UK, including new investment of £75 million.
Regenerative medicine is broadly defined as ‘an interdisciplinary approach spanning tissue engineering, developmental and stem cell biology, gene therapy, cellular therapeutics, biomaterials (scaffolds and matrices), nanoscience, bioengineering and chemical biology that seeks to repair or replace damaged or diseased human cells or tissues to restore normal function’.
A Strategy for UK Regenerative Medicine outlines the barriers and gaps that need to be addressed to ensure the UK remains a global player in this field, and to deliver both economic and clinical benefits for the country.
The plan includes a new cross-Council UK Regenerative Medicine Platform (UKRMP) to underpin research and early stage translation, and a TSB Cell Therapy Catapult Centre with a focus on later-stage clinical translation and implementation. The UKRMP will emphasise multidisciplinary approaches bringing together researchers, clinicians and regulators to give promising technologies the best chance of successful progression to clinical application.
Comment: The UK is right to recognise the growing pressure from international competitors in regenerative medicine, and moves to consolidate and build on existing strengths in this field are wise. However, despite considerable promise, the complexities and risks associated with some applications are unlikely to yield clinical products within the five-year time frame.