UK, Japan Research Groups Back Joint New Regenerative Medicine Projects

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by Mary Chapman |

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The United Kingdom’s Medical Research Council (MRC) and the Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development (AMED) are collaborating to support eight new regenerative medicine projects seeking to develop therapies for disorders such as Parkinson’s disease (PD).

The landmark £7 million (about $9 million) partnership will fund collaborative projects that focus on early stage development of new regenerative medicine-based treatments, and on the use of stem cells to study human development. In addition to Parkinson’s, prospective therapies would target a range of disorders that include blood diseases and liver disorders.

As a form of advanced therapy that could impact a number of currently incurable degenerative conditions, regenerative medicine is a branch of translational research in tissue engineering and molecular biology. It involves the process of replacing, engineering, or regenerating human or animal cells, tissues, or organs to restore or establish normal function.

“The UK and Japan are world leaders in stem cell and regenerative medicine research,” Fiona Watt, PhD, executive chair at the MRC, and Yoshinao Mishima, PhD, president of AMED, said in a press release.

“Past pioneering work in our countries has had a transformative impact and has revolutionised the potential for innovative approaches to medicine,” they said in a joint statement. “It is timely to bring our world leading groups together in their efforts to tackle the same therapeutic goals.”

For its part, the MRC, part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), is funding the projects through the UKRI’s Fund for International Collaboration. AMED supports the projects’ Japanese components through what’s called The Program for Technological Innovation of Regenerative Medicine, which implements ideas that advance the fields of regenerative medicine and stem cells.

“Regenerative medicine is a strategic priority for the MRC and AMED, and these excellent international partnerships will complement our existing investments in regenerative medicine and stem cell research, and add real value to the field,” the joint statement added.

Projects awarded through the initiative include: