The United Kingdom Regenerative Medicine Platform (UKRMP) is a £42M collaborative initiative that is addressing the key translational challenges of regenerative medicine.
Established in 2013 it is co-funded by the UK’s Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and Medical Research Council (MRC).
The second phase of the platform (UKRMP2) was awarded £17m and runs from 2018 to 2023. UKRMP2 continues to address outstanding key challengesand opportunities in regenerative medicine.
The UKRMP2 platform has an evolved and consolidated structure of three collaborative research hubs, that captures and builds on the strengths of UKRMP1. The three Hub themes are:
- Pluripotent stem cell biology: Considered to be a major strength of the UK, which may include recent developments / enabling technologies such as gene editing and synthetic/ designer cells;
- Engineered cell environment: The niche, activation of endogenous regenerative processes through small molecules, consideration of the extracellular matrix and cytokines;
- Acellular/smart materials: With particular focus on 3D architecture and the need to support vascularisation for functional integration of transplanted cells or tissue.
The Hubs all focus on specific diseases for which treatment options are unavailable or limited. Nevertheless, rather than directly pursuing clinical trials, the Platform is seeking to unlock scientific knowledge and produce tools, reagents and approaches which are applicable to a broad range of diseases. Finally, it will continue to provide a national resource that can be utilised by other UK research groups in both academia and industry.
CRM Director, Stuart Forbes directs the Engineered Cell Environment Hub. The key focus is the environment or "niche" within the body that surrounds stem cells which has a profound effect upon their behaviour including their ability to repair damaged organs. By understanding how the niche influences stem cell behaviour in tissues we aim to use this knowledge to develop future therapies for serious untreatable diseases.
- To develop cell therapies for damaged organs;
- To promote endogenous repair of damaged organs.
- Understanding and improving the physical properties of aged and injured tissue niches;
- Developing artificial niches to act as regenerative signals for tissue formation and repair;
- The discovery and development of novel targets to promote endogenous tissue repair.