Stem cell scientists, tissue engineers and clinician scientists at CRM and elsewhere are to join forces to investigate methods of promoting tissue repair in the liver, lungs and joints.
The £4 million project seeks to better understand the environment in which stem cells grow in the body, known as the niche.
Findings from the research will be used to design new therapies that mimic the niche environment, in order to stimulate repair mechanisms in tissues damaged by disease or injury.
Researchers at the Centre for Regenerative Medicine are leading the collaboration, called the UK Regenerative Medicine Platform (UKRMP)-Engineered Cell Environment Hub. Teams hope to work with industry partners to test potential therapies in clinical trials.
The five year project – led by the University’s Medical Research Council Centre for Regenerative Medicine – includes experts at the Universities of Cambridge and Birmingham, King’s College London and UCL (University College London) and builds on the success of Phase 1 of the UKRMP.
Professor Stuart Forbes, Director, MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine will lead the project. He said,
We’re bringing together a research network of regenerative biologists, tissue engineers and clinician scientists in order to understand why the niche environment does not always allow cells to grow and repair damaged tissues. We hope to develop novel treatments to promote the regeneration of tissues and organs.
The work is supported under Phase 2 of the UKRMP, funded by the Medical Research Council, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.
Dr Rob Buckle, Chief Science Officer, Medical Research Council said,
Regenerative medicine holds enormous potential for delivering the treatments and cures of tomorrow. The UKRMP has been pivotal in bringing together and supporting the interdisciplinary science required to tackle the key bottlenecks in the field. Great strides have been made so far and this second tranche of UKRMP funding will enable the UK to continue to lead the way to new understanding, treatments and therapies.
CRM Group leader Dr Elaine Emmerson is the new RCUK/UKRI Innovation/Rutherford Fund Fellow aligned to the project, and will look at how to harness niche signals to promote regeneration.