Ruth Mitchell

Stem cell 'therapy labs' unveiled

New facilities designed to carry out pioneering stem cell research have been unveiled in the North East. The £4m laboratory suite, funded by the regional development agency One NorthEast, will be used for growing cultures of stem cells. Scientists from the North East Stem Cell Institute (NESCI), made up of experts from Newcastle and Durham Universities, will carry out the work at Newcastle’s Centre for Life, hoping to develop clinical therapies for degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and multiple sclerosis.

When a stem cell divides, each new one has the potential to either remain a stem cell or become another type with a more specialised function. Scientists believe it should be possible to harness this ability to turn stem cells into a super “repair kit” for the body.

Professor Michael Whitaker, Chair of NESCI, said: “Stem cell research could yield huge benefits to medicine in the future and it is important that the North East remains as one of the world leaders in this field. “This new suite of laboratories reinforces our position at the forefront of research and in years to come will produce real benefits to people as a return on this investment.”

Margaret Fay, One NorthEast Chairman, said: “The cures for degenerative disease like cancer, Alzheimer’s and multiple sclerosis could be discovered in Newcastle thanks to the creation of these groundbreaking new labs. “Stem cell research is the future of medicine. These labs will help train a new generation of basic science and health professionals and nurture the new healthcare companies in the region.”

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