College of Medicine & Veterinary Medicine

Lab will fill stem cell research niche

A £10 million building project is set to further enhance the University’s world leading stem cell research.

The initiative, funded by the Medical Research Council and the University, will see an extension built to the Scottish Centre for Regenerative Medicine (SCRM).

The extension will house a new laboratory, enhancing the facilities of the Centre for Regenerative Medicine, which is based within the SCRM building.

Artificial niche

The laboratory will enable scientists to develop an artificial system to simulate the environment that surrounds stem cells in organs in the body, called the ‘niche’.

Stem cells are unique in their ability to become different cell types.

Research in this area could have major implications for the treatment of conditions ranging from liver disease to multiple sclerosis.

Artificial niches will enable researchers to grow stem cells in a more controlled way and then turn them into functioning cells that could be used to repair damaged tissue.

Widening research

The laboratory is being funded through the second stage of the UK Regenerative Medicine Platform (UKRMP).

It is called the UKRMP Centre for the Computational and Chemical Biology of the Niche and will function as a ‘research hotel’.

This means that it will be available to all UK regenerative medicine researchers at minimal cost to support the rapid development of innovative regenerative therapies for patients.

Control of stem cells within the body

The funding is linked to a £4.5M collaborative research project to study how stem cells are controlled in the body.

This project, led by CRM professor Stuart Forbes, was awarded through the first stage of the UK Regenerative Medicine Platform (UKRMP).

So far relatively few regenerative medicine therapies have made it to human trials. We are delighted to hear the UKRMP will continue to support our efforts to study and develop new approaches to improving the regeneration of damaged organs and tissues. This new facility will help us to define better how the stem cells in tissues regenerate damaged organs and therefore develop new methods to improve this process.

Professor Stuart ForbesCentre for Regenerative Medicine

Bigger picture

The UKRMP is jointly funded by the MRC, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, and Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

The new MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine laboratory forms part of a £25 million investment across the country by the UK research councils to support regenerative medicine research.

This includes funding to provide state-of-the-art facilities and equipment as well as setting up a “hub” to tie in with other strands of the UKRMP.

This will address challenges with regards to translating discoveries made in the lab into treatments for patients.

This investment through the UKRMP will help us to realise the potential of regenerative medicine to deliver new treatments for patients, while the capital support will provide additional cutting-edge technical capability in this area, helping to develop interdisciplinary programmes that will maintain the UK’s position as a world leader in the field.

Dr Rob Buckle, , said:Director of the UKRMP and Head of Regenerative Medicine at the Medical Research Council