MPs in call to boost research in regenerative medicine

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Ministers should work with the NHS to boost research into new stem cell therapies and introduce a fast-track system for bringing them to patients, MPs have said.

A report from the Science and Technology Select Committee says regenerative treatments should be a key part of the NHS's Personalised Medicine strategy.

The MPs also called for continued investment in the basic research underlying the new therapies.

Regenerative medicine involves replacing lost or diseased tissue in the body, and includes cutting edge stem cell therapies that are only just starting to reach patients.

In their report, the MPs said the field had "enormous potential" for significantly improving patients' lives. 

The NHS was uniquely placed to play a key role in developing the new technologies,  they stressed.

Committee chairman Stephen Metcalfe said: "Having a universal NHS provides a receptive environment for developing and delivering the innovative advances we are increasingly seeing in regenerative medicine.

"The next government, after the election, should work with the NHS to encourage continuing research and innovation in cutting-edge science and to introduce a 'fast track' system for approving emerging new therapies."

The NHS's Personalised Medicine Strategy should "explicitly" reflect the potential of regenerative medicine, he added.

MPs also highlighted an opportunity offered by Brexit to review regenerative medicine regulation.

"As the UK prepares to leave the EU, it is vital that the Government reviews the regulation of regenerative medicine to ensure it reflects the UK's - rather than the EU's - perspectives on the optimal balance between safety and accelerated access for patients to new therapies," said Mr Metcalfe.

The committee recommended that the Government works towards an advanced therapy strategy covering all aspects of regenerative medicine - including academic research, commercial development and clinical application.