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The Technology Strategy Board Allocates £10 Million to Fund Collaborative Research Proposals in Cell Therapy

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The Technology Strategy Board has allocated an indicative amount of £10M to fund collaborative research proposals in cell therapy. Additional funding from Research Councils may also be available for projects where there is a signi?cant high quality academic component and in particular for those projects that demonstrated added value to their existing portfolios; by building on or being complementary to existing academic research programmes.

Background Cell therapy uses living cells for the treatment of disease. Advances in cell biology, molecular biology and tissue engineering have shown that viable, living cells can be successfully used as therapeutic agents for the treatment of disease.

Stem cells have the potential to overcome the shortage of donor organs and the UK is a worldleader in this area. The potential of regenerative medicine is the creation of fully biological or biosynthetic tissues and organs that can replace, repair or regenerate tissues and organs damaged by disease, injury, or congenital abnormality. However, this will require the successful application of bioprocessing technologies for consistently manufactured products at tolerable cost.

The economic potential of the industry is estimated to be as much as $500 billion by 2010. However, to grasp the opportunity of novel cell-based therapies for pervasive and debilitating diseases, it must be possible to reproducibly manipulate living cells so that they possess the necessary characteristics for successful differentiation, transplantation and engraftment.

Technology Strategy Board • Autumn 2007 Competition for Funding The application of cell-based therapies can be facilitated by the fast-paced development and rapid growth that wound healing technologies are experiencing. This has been driven in part by the demand for improved dressings to treat chronic wounds, such as pressure ulcers, venous stasis ulcers, and diabetic ulcers.

Applications of novel or existing materials to prepare biocompatible and biodegradable materials to mediate cell delivery, in?uence tissue replacement and growth will enhance the treatment of dif?cult-to-treat and persistent injuries or degenerative diseases of spinal cord injury, heart muscle, brain etc.

Scope for Applications:

The Technology Strategy Board welcome applications for support that involve the development of living cell processes and cellfocused applications for improved healing but projects that demonstrate signi?cant innovation in the following areas will be particularly welcome:

• Engineered systems for scale-up of tissues and cells,

• Functional integration and immunocompatibility,

• New dressings with reactive elements,

• Control of cellular movement.

Funding Allocation & Project Details:

The Technology Strategy Board advises on the selection of priority technology areas and is a business-led executive non departmental public body, established by the Government. Its mission is to promote and support research into, and development and exploitation of, technology and innovation for the bene?t of UK business, in order to increase economic growth and improve the quality of life.

An indicative £10M of Technology Strategy Board funding is allocated to Collaborative R&D projects that address one or more of the areas indicated above and involve science-to-business and business-to-business interactions.

Additional funding may be available from the Research Councils where there is a signi?cant high quality academic component, and in particular for those projects that demonstrate added value to its existing portfolio. Projects can range from small, highly focused basic research projects, aimed at establishing technical feasibility, through to applied research and experimental development projects con?gured to produce technology demonstrators. It is anticipated, however, that the majority of the total funding will be allocated to projects in the applied research category.

Projects are expected to last 2-3 years although extended projects (up to 5 years) will be considered where Proof of Concept needs to be established. Extended funding aims to support start-ups and SMEs to build the product and business proposition and make the business more ‘investor ready’.

Typically a project would be require support of around £500k-£2m, although no project will be rejected on the grounds of size alone, and generally aim to implement signi?cant business change in a 5- 7 year time frame rather that shorter-term payback.