Utilising Glasgow University stem cell expertise

Published: 18 January 2007

Glasgow scientists sign ground-breaking deal

The University of Glasgow has stepped to the forefront of stem cell research in Scotland through a partnership with one of the world's most advanced stem cell companies.

Internationally recognised researchers from the University are to work with scientists from Cellartis AB, the world's largest provider of ethically derived human embryonic stem cell technologies.

As part of a £9.5million, three year deal, Professors Andy Baker, Miles Houslay and Graeme Milligan and their teams are to provide expertise in molecular mechanisms that control cell signalling and development.

They will be involved in the development an automated process to produce high quality stem cells, a capability that currently does not exist anywhere else in the world.

Professor Steve Beaumont, Vice Principal, Research & Enterprise at Glasgow University, said; "There are essentially two key technical hurdles to be overcome before stem cells can be used extensively for drug discovery and therapies: you need a robust process to produce large numbers of stable cells to work with; and you need to control the way in which a stem cell changes into, say, a liver cell or a heart cell.

"Neither of these problems has been cracked yet, and it is these key technical hurdles that the programme hopes to overcome. We are very pleased that Glasgow University has the opportunity to play a key part in what could be a highly significant advance."

The £9.5million project is funded by ITI Life Sciences.

Bringing together world-class expertise in the molecular mechanisms that control cell signalling and development, and significant know-how in growing, handling and maintaining stem cells, the ITI Life Science programme will aim to solve the main issues involved in the production of high volumes of quality stem cells.

Welcoming the announcement, Deputy First Minister Nicol Stephen said; "This announcement is excellent news for Scotland. The project will significantly increase our global visibility and our already excellent reputation in the field of stem cells. Cellartis is one of the world's most advanced stem cell companies and its work will contribute greatly to the development of better, safer drugs."

Molecular Pharmacology and Cellular Signalling is one of the key research themes at the University's Faculty of Biomedical and Life Sciences and Faculty of Medicine.

Professor Miles Houslay is an international authority on the structure, function and regulation of cAMP phosphodiesterases.

Professor Graeme Milligan is an international authority on the structure, function and regulation of G protein-coupled receptors.

Professor Andy Baker is an international authority on cell signalling, stem cells and gene transfer.

Cellartis is setting up an R&D and manufacturing facility in Dundee, creating up to 75 high-value jobs.

Dr Eleanor Mitchell, ITI Life Sciences' acting CEO, said: "We have been carefully considering how best ITI Life Sciences can contribute to the development of further expertise in stem cell technologies in Scotland. We have engaged excellent participants whose capabilities give us the best chance of success. This first phase will, we hope, result in a robust and scaleable technology for producing human stem cells."


For more information, please contact the University of Glasgow Media Relations Office on 0141 330 3535, or email r.mchugh@admin.gla.ac.uk

First published: 18 January 2007

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