Regenerative medicine - Science and Technology Committee Contents


Regenerative medicine

Chapter 1: Introduction

Purpose of the inquiry

1.  Regenerative medicine is an umbrella term for the medical specialty of the regeneration of human tissue, organs and cells.[1] It has potential to treat or cure disease. Possible treatments range from a cure for diabetes to new approaches for drug screening, from curing neurological disorders to, eventually, repairing hearts. This inquiry sought to pinpoint the UK's strengths in regenerative medicine, identify barriers to translation (applying findings from basic research in a clinical setting) and commercialisation (in this case, primarily delivering treatments in the healthcare market), and recommend solutions. The UK has an enviable potential resource in the National Health Service (NHS)—access to hundreds of thousands of patients in one system—and a strong science base in this field. The Government have also been paying significant attention to developing the field. Together, these factors could combine to benefit patient wellbeing and the health of the UK economy.

2.  Basic science, translation and commercialisation in this field are being well supported in some other countries. However, there is growing concern that despite positive progress so far the UK could fall behind in this area and miss out on opportunities to translate basic science to commercially viable treatments as the science develops. This opportunity must not be missed—the UK could and should be a world leader in this field.

Scope

3.  Much has been written about regenerative medicine and its composite elements in recent years. We have focussed our inquiry on the translation and commercialisation of research. Given the work of previous committees of this House considering the ethics of the use of stem cells[2] and the work of other organisations on this area (such as the Nuffield Council on Bioethics),[3] we excluded ethical considerations from our terms of reference.

Methodology

4.  We issued a call for evidence (set out in Appendix 3) in August 2012 and received 76 submissions. In October 2012, we held a seminar on regenerative medicine at King's College London, a note of which is set out in Appendix 4. In December 2012, we visited the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM). A note of this visit is set out in Appendix 5. We held 17 evidence sessions in the House of Lords from October 2012 to February 2013.

Structure of the report

5.  In the next chapter, we set out some definitions and examples of regenerative medicine. In Chapter 3, we consider the landscape of regenerative medicine in the UK. Chapter 4 discusses barriers to the translation of regenerative research and recommends strategies to address them. Chapter 5 looks at commercial issues. Chapter 6 summarises our key conclusions and recommendations.

Acknowledgements

6.  The membership and interests of the Committee are set out in Appendix 1, and those who submitted evidence are listed in Appendix 2. We are grateful to all those who assisted us in our work.

  1. We are also grateful to our specialist adviser, Professor Fiona Watt FRS, Director of the Centre for Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine, King's College London, for her expertise and guidance during this inquiry. We stress, however, that the conclusions which we draw and the recommendations that we make are ours alone.



1   Mason, C., Dunnill, P. 'A brief definition of regenerative medicine', Regenerative Medicine, January 2008. Back

2   Stem Cell Research Committee, Stem Cell Research (Report, Session 2001-02, HL Paper 83), and Joint Committee on the Human Tissue and Embryos (Draft) Bill, Human Tissue and Embryos (Draft) Bill (Report, Session 2006-07, HL Paper 169). Back

3   Nuffield Council on Bioethics: Emerging biotechnologies: technology, choice and the public good, 2012. Back


 
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