World Class Science - The Four Science Themes

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Professor John Burn talks about Stem Cells & Genetic Sciences

Stem Cells and Genetic Sciences offer the possibility of a complete paradigm shift in medicine. Whereas, for the last century, treatments for patients have been based on either surgery or drug therapy, cell-based therapies will allow science to treat the causes of disease and degeneration that result from the processes of ageing and disease.

Stem cell science offers significant economic opportunities for those institutions, regions and nations that gain first mover advantage in this field. The UK is widely recognised as being one of the key countries in this regard and the North East has particular strengths in stem cell science and medicine. Durham and Newcastle Universities have come together with their related NHS Trusts and a range of other partners to form the North East England Stem Cell Institute (NESCI). A key strength is that work is conducted across a range of stem cell types -embryonic, somatic, cord blood and germ line stem cells - across the two partner Universities. The interface between basic scientists across the two universities and the clinicians who will be needed to put the science into practice is very well developed. The North East has NHS research and clinical translational facilities that are second to none and the expertise in transplant and experimental medicine ensures that the researchers are able to operate at the interface between science and its application.

Spin-out companies have already been developed in enabling technologies and new GMP facilities built, to allow the production of stem cells to clinical grade. These are already attracting industrial partners.

These facilities will put the North East at the forefront of the translation of stem cell science nationally and internationally.

NESCI is integral to, and integrated with, the wider Life Sciences agenda of Newcastle Science City, a broad collaboration between linked scientific disciplines, in particular stem cell biology and regenerative medicine, human genetics, reproductive medicine, drug discovery and biopharmaceutical bioprocessing.

These areas form the basis of a regional activity in lifesciences that will compete in quality and critical mass with other major centres in the UK. Large elements of the work of the Life Sciences strand are built upon the success of the International Centre for Life, which has brought together different disciplines of scientists and clinicians with ethicists, social scientists, public educators and commercialisation agents.

Located in the heart of the city, the International Centre for Life acts as an early exemplar of the way in which Newcastle Science City will operate in the future.

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Further Information

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Newcastle University
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BBC Science & Nature
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International Centre for Life
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