Boost of almost €10 million for regenerative medicine research

In a major boost for regenerative medicine research in Ireland, Minister for Enterprise, Trade, and Innovation, Batt O’Keeffe announced this week the funding of almost €10 million for the Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI ) at NUI Galway.

Funded by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI ), REMEDI is Ireland’s leading biomedical research institute focusing on translating stem cell biology to regenerative therapeutics. Monday’s announcement will allow REMEDI to take research findings from the first phase of its operation and move towards clinical trials for new therapies and treatments for degenerative diseases.

Minister O'Keeffe said the €9.69 million government investment would help scientists to develop practical medical applications for their research. “For six years, leading scientists, engineers, clinicians, and industry partners in REMEDI have worked towards new therapies to help organ and tissue repair and regeneration. The emphasis in recent years has been on commercialising ground-breaking work undertaken in the REMEDI laboratories. The support of the Government through an award of over €9 million from Science Foundation Ireland will help REMEDI to move their research to the next stage of clinical trials which could produce new therapies for human health,” said Minister O'Keeffe, who reiterated the Government's commitment to investment in research and innovation.

Regenerative medicine is an evolving and exciting area of medical science, which aims to regenerate tissue thus avoiding the need for organ replacement and the associated problems with sourcing of donor organs. Developments in the field hold enormous potential for the treatment of currently untreatable degenerative diseases.

In a partnership involving scientists, engineers, clinicians, and industry partners, researchers at REMEDI aim to develop novel therapies to achieve organ and tissue repair and regeneration. The Regenerative Medicine Institute is particularly focused on developing new therapies and treatments for diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes mellitus, and osteoarthritis.

The announcement comes on the back of additional support for regenerative medicine research at NUI Galway, with a recent Higher Education Authority award of PRTLI funding to the value of €37 million for a Biosciences Research building and a Translational Research Facility. These two new buildings for medical science research will enable NUI Galway to build on its existing strength in the biomedical sciences area, established through its National Centre for Biomedical Engineering Science (NCBES ).

The Biosciences Research Building, which is currently under construction and due for completion in 2011, is located on the main campus, while the Translational Research Facility will house basic, translational, and clinical research teams on the site of University Hospital Galway and will open in 2012. It is hoped that the development of the Translational Research Facility at the hospital will promote the international standing of both the university and University Hospital Galway as leading centres for translational research and cancer care.

In a third development in the biomedical sciences area, a new clinical research facility on the grounds of University Hospital Galway will open in 2012. The HRB Clinical Research Facility Galway is a joint venture between Galway University Hospitals and NUI Galway, with funding from the Health Research Board and HSE. This third facility will serve as the translational arm of REMEDI and will allow findings from basic research in stem cells, gene therapy, biomaterials, and immunology to be brought to the clinical trial stage.

NUI Galway president, Dr James J Browne, said: “We in NUI Galway are very proud of the work of REMEDI. In the six years since its establishment, the institute has developed a critical mass of scientific research and industry partnerships with multi-national and indigenous companies. As it moves into the next exciting phase of development, REMEDI will bring new therapies and treatments for degenerative diseases to clinical trial here in Galway. This is ground breaking work and will support Ireland’s position at the forefront of the medical technology sector globally.”

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