UK strategy for regenerative and cellular medicine unveiled

28 July 2011

A new government report has set out the challenges for regenerative medicine in the UK and a strategy for future development.

Published by the Office for Life Sciences and the Department of Health (DH), the new report provides an overview of the UK’s strengths and weaknesses in regenerative medicine, and sets out a strategy to boost the development and commercialisation of regenerative therapeutics building on existing academic, health service and commercial expertise.
Regenerative medicine is defined in the broadest sense, incorporating stem cell therapeutics, tissue engineering, biomaterials and gene therapy as well as cell-based technologies for drug discovery, toxicity testing and non-regenerative therapeutics.
Given the high costs of such treatments, clear evidence of safety and efficacy are said to be vital for securing ongoing financial investment. Potential benefits in terms of both commercial revenue and improved health outcomes are noted, along with the unique position of the National Health Service (NHS) as a ‘fertile environment’ for the translation of scientific innovation into diagnostics and treatments and calls for the NHS to work more closely with companies to achieve this.
Commitments are also set out for the government to back efforts to generate public and private investment and maintain facilitative regulatory and intellectual property frameworks. The UK Stem Cell Toolkit (see previous news) will be kept up to date to reflect any changes in the regulatory pathway and support research and product development.
Comment: Overall, the report calls for an integrated, national strategy to improve the ‘delivery, infrastructure, regulation and uptake of cell therapy and regenerative medicine’. Plans to capitalise on potential UK strengths in research, a permissive regulatory environment and unique national healthcare system to drive translation echo recent recommendations from the Academy of Medical Sciences (see previous news). The challenge will be in realising these ambitions in the light of current financial restrictions and restructuring in the health service.

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