Nov 08 2010 Posted: 00:00 GMT
In a major boost for Regenerative Medicine research in Ireland, Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation, Mr Batt O'Keeffe T.D. today announced 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. Today'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. Today's funding 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. The development of the Translational Research Facility at the hospital will promote the international standing of both the University and University Hospital Galway as a leading centre 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 Health Service Executive. 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 added: "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." As REMEDI's focus shifts towards translating research into human therapies, its partnerships with industry will take on a new significance. Advances in regenerative medicine will have important advantages for the progression of research and development in the medical device industry, which is critical to the economy of the West of Ireland. The Institute's already successful collaborative relationship with Medtronic, a global leader in medical device technologies, will continue to grow; while new partnerships have been established with indigenous SME companies including Creganna-Tactyx Medical, Procure, Ovagen, Proxy Biomedical, Ziel Biopharma and EnBIO. Speaking about his vision for the Regenerative Medicine Institute, Director of REMEDI, Professor Tim O'Brien said: "REMEDI's vision is to develop a new and realisable paradigm for medicine in the future utilising minimally invasive therapeutic approaches to promote organ and tissue repair and regeneration. Our goal is to undertake basic research in stem cell biology and to translate the outputs into new regenerative therapies. To achieve this, REMEDI will work with partners in hospitals which are members of the Irish Clinical Research Infrastructure Network, in Irish and overseas universities, and in industry, to translate and commercialise research outputs by developing regenerative medicine therapies for diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus and osteoarthritis." In addition to today's funding from Science Foundation Ireland, REMEDI has also had recent success in securing EU research funding for two projects to develop new methods for the treatment of osteoarthritis using stem cell biology.