The awards, totalling £3.6 million (US$7.2 million) over two years, follow on from a collaboration set up in August 2006 between Geron and the University of Edinburgh to develop hESC-derived hepatocytes for the treatment of liver failure and for use in cell-based assays, as well as to develop osteoblasts and chondrocytes for the treatment of musculoskeletal disorders such as osteoporosis, bone fractures and osteoarthritis.
The grants relate to preclinical safety and efficacy studies of three therapeutic cell types derived from human embryonic stem cells (hESCs). The projects are led by Dr. Brendon Noble and Prof. John Iredale at the University of Edinburgh’s MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine.
“These are the first grants we have awarded that use human embryonic stem cells,” said Sir Richard Sykes, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, UK Stem Cell Foundation. “Our remit is to support high quality translational projects whose direct aim is rapid and safe progression towards clinical application. These research groups combine scientific and clinical expertise within a centre of excellence for stem cell research at the University of Edinburgh and are therefore well positioned for achieving success.”
“The UK continues to demonstrate international leadership in supporting development of embryonic stem cell technology,” said David Greenwood, Geron’s executive vice president and chief financial officer. “Because of the receptiveness in the UK, we have major collaborations in place at the University of Edinburgh, the University of Birmingham and Oxford.”