CAMBRIDGE, United Kingdom—The University of Cambridge hasannounced that it will be receiving £8 million (approximately $12.5 million) tofund a new world-leading center for stem cell biology and medicine. The fundingwill come from the Wellcome Trust and the Medical Research Council (MRC), andThe Wellcome Trust-Medical Research Council Cambridge Stem Cell Institute willfocus on the study of stem cells and their potential applications in a varietyof life-threatening conditions that lack effective cures or treatments.
"This strategic collaboration between the UK's two largestfunders of medical research has united teams from across Cambridge that workacross all types of stem cell research and will enable its director, AustinSmith, to attract outstanding researchers in the field," Sir Mark Walport,director of the Wellcome Trust, said in a press release. "The new institutewill play a vital role in accelerating our understanding health and disease andin the development of new treatments and will cement the UK's position as aworld-leader in stem cell research."
Despite the ethical and regulatory issues that continue toplague researchers and pharmaceutical companies interested in the potential ofstem cells, they continue to draw interest and optimism for the effects theycould have on a variety of indications. Beyond their uses in regenerativetherapies, such as wound treatment and spinal cord injuries, they also showpromise for conditions such as diabetes, blindness, liver disease and evenneurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's disease.
"The UK is currently one of the best places in the world todo stem cell research and we want to make sure that continues to be the casenow and for the next generation of scientists. By joining forces with theWellcome Trust to invest strategically in all areas of stem cell science,embracing both adult and embryonic stem cells, we will create a competitive andattractive environment for future commercial investment in regenerativemedicine," Professor Sir John Savill, chief executive of the MRC, said in astatement.
The new institute will build on the latest investment aswell as existing funding from the MRC and the Wellcome Trust, and will bringtogether 30 research teams with experience in embryonic, adult and inducedpluripotent stem cells. The institute will eventually be based in apurpose-built 8,000-meter facility on the Cambridge Biomedical Research Campus,with research to focus on areas such as pluripotency, epithelial tissues,hematopoiesis and neural and cardiovascular stem cells.
"The Wellcome Trust-MRC Cambridge Stem Cell Institute willbe an invigorating environment for cross-fertilization between fundamental andtranslational researchers. Our aim is to close the knowledge gap and drive stemcell research forward towards clinical applications. The world-class facilitieswill attract the best international talent from the fields of stem cell biologyand regenerative medicine to pursue this goal," Professor Austin Smith,director of the Wellcome Trust-MRC Cambridge Stem Cell Institute, noted in apress release.
"This joint funding initiative from the Wellcome Trust andMRC gives us the opportunity to link Cambridge's great strengths in stem cellbiology with our strengths in translational clinical research, and thus to givenew insights into disease mechanisms – and ultimately to develop newtherapies," said Professor Sir Patrick Sissons, Regius Professor of Physic andHead of the School of Clinical Medicine at the University of Cambridge, in a statement."In association with the initiative, we all look forward to the futureco-location of stem cell biology and medicine in the new building planned forthe Cambridge Biomedical Campus."
SOURCE: University of Cambridge press release