Stem Cell Issues
Scotland Continues to Forge Ahead in Stem Cell Research
Jun 12, 2013 - 12:22:45 PM
(HealthNewsDigest.com) - BOSTON, June 12, 2013 -- Scotland's standing as Europe's largest and most highly regarded stem cell research community has been reaffirmed recently by announcements of funding from the UK Medical Research Council (MRC) and the British Heart Foundation to the MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine (CRM) based at the Edinburgh BioQuarter. As part of a major $25m boost for UK regenerative medicine, the Edinburgh center will play a key role in the development of new therapies.
This and other recent news exemplify Scotland's strength and depth of expertise in this field. Developments at an academic level describing increased understanding of the mechanism of cellular reprogramming were recently reported by Dr. Keisuke Kaje from the MRC-CRM in Nature, whilst Scottish company Roslin Cells and the MRC-CRM have been actively collaborating on iPS cell line production ensuring a more quality-oriented perspective and generating more commercial opportunities.
Elsewhere, exciting research at Heriot-Watt University has seen the use of 3D printing techniques to produce clusters of viable stem cells that could speed up progress towards creating artificial organs. In the immediate future, Professor Will Shu and his team hope the technique can be used to generate biopsy-like tissue samples for drug testing.
At a clinical level also, Scotland has seen some major developments. ReNeuron has announced the successful conclusion of its Phase 1 stem cell clinical trial (PISCES) using its ReN001 therapy for treatment of stroke. This trial has been conducted at the Southern General Hospital, Greater Glasgow & Clyde, by Professor Keith Muir. The company is currently seeking final regulatory and ethical approvals for a Phase II study--scheduled to begin this summer. In a separate announcement ReNeuron has selected Dundee as the location of choice for another Phase 1 stem cell-based clinical trial, this time focused on critical limb ischemia.
Also underway is a 20-patient Phase 1 clinical trial using limbal cells to repair corneal blindness. This is being led by Professor Bal Dhillon in Edinburgh and is funded jointly by the UK Stem Cell Foundation and Scottish Enterprise in partnership with Scotland's Chief Scientist's Office.
Finally, a significant boost to Scotland's capabilities for supporting clinical trials was received with news that the new GMP Manufacturing Facility within the MRC-CRM, and managed by Roslin Cells along with the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service (SNBTS), has been awarded a license by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority (MHRA), which permits the manufacture and release of Advanced Therapy Medicinal Products (ATMPs) for use in clinical trials.
"Scotland is once again demonstrating its expertise in academic, translational and clinical applications in stem cells and regenerative medicine" says Dr. Ed Hutchinson, spokesperson for life sciences at Scottish Enterprise. "These advances have been made possible through a collaborative approach whereby Scotland's universities, companies and health boards all actively participate in developments in this exciting area. With a supportive supply chain in place, Scotland can be seen as the place to go to undertake stem cell clinical trials and as a base for the European market."
This week, a Scottish delegation including the MRC Center for Regenerative Medicine, Roslin Cells and Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, in addition to stem-cell focused companies such as Biogelx and Sistemic, will attend the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) conference in Boston. Further information on Scotland's stem cell industry can be found at the Scottish Development International booth, number 331, at the ISSCR conference or visit www.sdi.co.uk.
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