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£40m stem cell facility for Pfizer

14th November 2008

The world’s largest drug company Pfizer has announced it plans to spend £40m on a stem cell research centre in the UK.

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It will fund the centre at the Granta Science Park in Cambridge where about 40 researchers will focus on brain and sensory disorders.

Pfizer will be funding a similar centre in Massachusetts, which will have about 30 scientists working in it.

Both facilities will aim to "develop a new generation of regenerative medicines . . . that may prevent disability, repair failing organs and treat degenerative diseases".

The development is under a $100m programme called Pfizer Regenerative Medicine.

It signals a major boost for the field of stem cell research, which while making rapid scientific progress has previously suffered from lack of investment by the pharmaceutical industry.

Chris Mason, professor of regenerative medicine at University College London said: "This is a huge vote of confidence for UK stem cell science."

Alastair Riddell, chief executive of Cambridge-based Stem Cell Sciences, said the Pfizer launch was an encouraging sign that the pharmaceuticals industry was prepared to make big investments in stem cell research.

The move is seen as important in boosting the UK’s competitive position at a time when US stem cell research is expected to expand following Barack Obama's presidential election victory.

He has already indicated that restrictions on stem cell research funding would be removed.

In the next few months UK academic researchers and biotechnology companies specialising in stem cells should see benefits from the scientific collaborations that Pfizer is expected to announce.

 

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