A House of Lords committee has said the UK is currently underprepared for developments in regenerative medicine and called on the Government to act to ensure the UK maintains its leading role in the field.
The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee report on Regenerative Medicine concluded that a complex regulatory environment in the UK and a lack of coordinated leadership on regenerative medicine meant that the UK's ability to turn research into clinical application is being held back.
'Private investors are reluctant to invest in regenerative medicine because of the high risks of failure to translate scientific discoveries into widely used treatments', it said. 'The Government could help by simplifying and clarifying the regulatory system, enhancing support for clinical trials and backing innovative funding models'.
The Committee, which makes its recommendations to the Government, sought to identify potential barriers to the future development of regenerative medicine, including potential cell, tissue or organ therapies.
Its recommendations include providing further funding, streamlining the regulatory system, and introducing a Government-led strategy to ensure the NHS is ready to provide regenerative medicine treatments, if and when they become available.
It also called on the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) to review its resource evaluation process. It considered the model for evaluating innovative treatments to be 'inappropriate' and said NICE must devise a way of giving suitable consideration to the long-term savings offered by 'high up-front cost treatments'.
It also said the UK Government must take action to protect people from rogue therapies both at home and abroad through the provision of information.
Michael Hunt, Chief Executive Officer of ReNeuron, a stem cell company that gave evidence to the Committee, praised the report as a comprehensive analysis of regenerative medicine in the UK. 'The potential barriers to commercialisation identified in the report are real and important and we endorse the recommendations proposed in the report to address them', he said.