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Israel and UK announce ambitious joint program for regenerative medicine

The British and Israeli governments will jointly fund five major research projects in regenerative medicine – the process of replacing or regenerating human cells, tissues or organs to restore or establish normal function in diseased ones, as reported in the Jerusalem Post.

The technique encourages the body’s own repair systems to heal tissues or organs that previously could not be fixed. Regenerative medicine also focuses on creating new tissues and organs in the lab and implanting them in the body.

British Ambassador to Israel Matthew Gould announced the program on Monday. It is part of the BIRAX Regenerative Medicine Initiative, a five-year multi-million pound program that he called “one of the most ambitious and innovative bilateral medical science collaborations between two countries anywhere in the world.”

The prime ministers of Israel and the UK launched BIRAX in 2008 to develop their potential of scientific collaboration.

Prominent scientists from Britain’s top universities, including Oxford, Cambridge and Edinburgh, will work together with Israeli counterparts from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot on stem cell research. The projects include developing stem cell treatments for multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease, looking for a regenerative therapy for type 1 Diabetes and finding ways to persuade the immune system not to attack stem cells.

Gould said, “Britain and Israel are both world leaders in regenerative medicine.

The UK-Israel Life Sciences Council, a body of 19 leading scientists from the UK and Israel launched by UK Foreign Secretary William Hague in November 2010 to improve science collaboration between the two countries, has overseen the project.

“Science is rightly one of the cornerstones of the relationship between Britain and Israel – our countries are scientific superpowers,” said Hague. “Both are countries that have built up our economies and our identity through being leaders in science and technology.”

For the full Jerusalem Post article click here.