Scottish stem cell community thrives as science advances

FierceBiotech Research recently sat down with Kevin Price, CEO at Scottish Stem Cell Network, to discuss some of the exciting developments in the country's stem cell research. Price joined the SSCN, which was launched in 2003, earlier this year.

SSCN works with the Scottish stem cell community, including academic institutions, clinical and industry-based research groups, and also aims to provide international organizations with easy access to stem cell researchers in Scotland. It hopes to attract and retain good scientists who will work to advance stem cell discoveries in that country. Currently, the network is focusing on discovering treatments for those suffering from diseases with poor outcomes. It also is working with academic groups in the UK and abroad, Price explained, adding that the network's main goal is to advance stem cell science so the technology attracts the interests of Big Pharma.

Scotland has recently seen exciting developments in stem cell research, as Price pointed out. ReNeuron is studying stem cells as a therapy for strokes and a trial should begin "imminently." In addition, a small trial in corneal blindness is being conducted in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Scotland is at the forefront of stem cell research in Europe at a pivotal time. It was recently reported that the EU is preparing to assess the first stem cell drug. The EMA said last week that it had been informed about the "intent of a European manufacturer to submit the first application for marketing authorization for a stem cell-based product," Reuters reports. Drugmakers typically send a letter of intent four to six months before a formal application, a spokeswoman said, so this would imply a filing toward the end of 2010. The agency didn't name the company involved.

Price told FBR that Scotland has good links with the U.S., particularly with California. This relationship could prove important, especially in the wake of UC Irvine opening the state's first stem cell research institute.  The institute will house more than 60 researchers in more than a dozen labs and has attracted leading scientists from Canada and the UK, the LA Times reports.

Scotland and California aren't the only regions focusing on stem cells, according to Price. Japan has invested heavily in this area and is keen on entering the EU market. India also is looking to make a footprint on the continent, too.

- check out the Reuters story
- get more from the LA Times

ALSO: Scottish Stem Cell Network, on behalf of its partners, announced that the Technology Strategy Board has awarded the consortium a grant to develop a Therapy Pathway Realization Tool applied to three representative regenerative medicine therapeutic products (REALISE). The project will take 18 months to complete. Release