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A Snapshot Of The UK’s Growing Stem Cell And Gene Therapy Industry


A snapshot of clinical trials and research in the UK shows stem cell and gene therapy to be progressing at an encouraging rate, with many new studies emerging and making their way through clinical stages every day.

The Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult, an initiative born of the UK’s Catapult programme for innovation, has recently updated their annual databases of cell and gene therapy clinical trials and preclinical studies in the UK.

Their data provides a unique overview of how the medical landscape of stem cell-based treatments is developing and how it will progress over the next few years. CEO of the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult Keith Thompson offers an overview of the update:

“The latest update to our databases shows the cell and gene therapy industry is progressing with trials moving through the various clinical stages and the number of preclinical projects continuing to grow. It’s also really encouraging to see the number of trials sponsored by commercial companies going up as that’s a signal of confidence from industry that these types of therapies offer commercial potential and really do have a future as medicines for patients.”

The Catapult, which was born out of the aim to help build a world-leading cell and gene therapy industry in the UK, has highlighted several key trends, as the data presents:

  • There are at least 57 stem cell and gene therapy clinical trials currently in progress in the UK.
  • There’s no change in the total number of trials since the number of new trials matches the number of those closing.
  • The update marks the very first time we’re seeing gene therapy research conducted in human clinical trials.
  • There is an increase in the number of stem cell and gene therapy trials sponsored by commercial organisations.

At the centre of the studies is everything from regrowing knee cartilage and Achilles tendon repair to reversing macular degeneration and cracking Huntington’s Disease. Nearly a quarter of all preclinical studies are focusing on ophthalmology, while the focus of clinical trials is on oncology, neurological, and other areas such as cardiovascular and gastroenterology.

Behind the work is a mix of specialist research universities, private institutions and hospitals, such as Great Ormond Street Hospital, The UK Stem Cell Foundation, University of Cambridge, and ReNeuron Limited. The wide diversity of the study’s instigators, supported by various streams of private and public investment, is a testament to the strength and confidence in the industry. One thing The Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult stress is the growing interest and sponsorship by commercial organisations. Many businesses are recognising the maturation of stem cell and genetic research and are getting involved now while the market is still young.

Awareness of stem and gene therapies and their capabilities of offering effective treatments is spreading. It’s a promising sign for anyone who could benefit from their ability to treat disease, regenerate organs, and improve quality of life, and a strong indication that we are well on track to having a booming stem cell market over the next five years.

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