£10M capital funding to build a new ‘stem cell niche’ facility

10 September 2013

Liver progenitor cells in their niche
Liver progenitor cells (red) in their niche (green). Image credit Dr Luke Boulter

The Medical Research Council (MRC) and the University of Edinburgh announced yesterday that the MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine (CRM) will receive £10M to build an extension to the Scottish Centre for Regenerative Medicine (SCRM) building.

Within the new laboratory facility scientists will develop an artificial system to simulate the environment that surrounds stem cells in organs in the body, called the ‘niche’. The artificial niches will allow researchers to grow stem cells in a more controlled way and turn them into functioning cells that could be used to repair damaged tissue.

The new laboratory space, the UKRMP Centre for the Computational and Chemical Biology of the Niche, will function as a ‘research hotel’, and will be available to all UK regenerative medicine researchers at minimal cost to support the rapid development of innovative new regenerative therapies for patients.

The funding was awarded through the second stage of the UK Regenerative Medicine Platform (UKRMP), which is jointly funded by the MRC, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

The funding is linked to a £4.5M collaborative research project to study how stem cells are controlled in the body. This project, led by CRM professor Stuart Forbes, was awarded through the first stage of the UK Regenerative Medicine Platform (UKRMP).

Prof Stuart Forbes commented: “So far relatively few regenerative medicine therapies have made it to human trials. We are delighted to hear the UKRMP will continue to support our efforts to study and develop new approaches to improving the regeneration of damaged organs and tissues. This new facility will help us to define better how the stem cells in tissues regenerate damaged organs and therefore develop new methods to improve this process.”