Regenerative medicine - Science and Technology Committee Contents


SUMMARY




  



Regenerative medicine involves replacing or regenerating cells, tissues or organs in the human body, in order to restore or establish normal function. It includes cell therapy, gene therapy, tissue engineering and other methods, and it has enormous potential to treat and cure diseases. It could also improve the quality of peoples' lives and generate significant economic benefits for the UK.




In this inquiry we have sought to identify what the UK is doing well in regenerative medicine and any barriers to its future development. We make recommendations to the Government that, if acted upon, would facilitate the translation of scientific knowledge into clinical practice and encourage its commercial exploitation.




The UK has many strengths in regenerative medicine, including: an excellent basic science base, potential access to hundreds of thousands of patients in a unified healthcare system, and experienced blood and transfusion services, clinicians and scientists. The UK has the chance to be a leader in this field and this opportunity must not be missed.




Private investors are reluctant to invest in regenerative medicine because of the high risks of failure to translate scientific discoveries into widely used treatments. The Government could help by simplifying and clarifying the regulatory system, enhancing support for clinical trials and backing innovative funding models. They must take action now to ensure that the UK does not fall behind other countries, such as Japan and the USA, who are already taking steps to streamline their processes. Our headline recommendations are that:




·  The Health Research Authority, with the support of an independent advisory group, should take further steps over the next 18 months to streamline the overall system of regulation of regenerative medicine. In the short term, it should provide an additional advice service to help researchers navigate the "labyrinthine" regulatory system;



·  The National Institute for Health Research should set up a regenerative medicine stream of its clinical research network to assist with design of clinical trials, identifying patients and finding interested clinicians;



·  The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills should invest in manufacturing facilities to support the scale-up of treatments in mid to late stage clinical development;



·  The Department of Health should develop a strategy to ensure the NHS is ready to provide regenerative treatments;



·  The Technology Strategy Board and Economic and Social Research Council should evaluate innovative funding models, including those used in other countries and recommend one to Her Majesty's Treasury, to supplement the promising work of the Cell Therapy Catapult;


·  The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence should improve its evaluation process to allow for the fact that although regenerative medicine treatments may have a high initial cost, they are likely to make big savings to the NHS in the long run; and


·  The Government should appoint an independent Chair of a group tasked with co-ordinating and maintaining momentum in the delivery of regenerative medicine treatments.



 
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