The world is facing major health and healthcare challenges. Ageing and changing lifestyles are driving a rapid increase in the chronic disease burden around the world. In response, our healthcare system has been geared towards caring for the chronically diseased: relieving symptoms and slowing down disease progression. This system is labour intensive and expensive. Regenerative medicine (RM) can make a powerful contribution to addressing this health challenge. By triggering and instructing the healing powers of our own bodies, RM has the potential to restore diseased tissue and organs. It holds the promise to cure many of the now chronic patients, improving the lives of millions and preventing lifelong, expensive care processes: cure instead of care.
Formation of RegMed XB
To join forces on RM and be worldwide leader in this field, the Netherlands formed a large public-private collaboration on RM: RegMed XB. RegMed XB brings together health foundations, scientists, entrepreneurs and governments to cooperatively tackle ambitious challenges in regenerative medicine. The partners include leading researchers and entrepreneurs with decades of world-leading experience in regenerative medicine.
Focus on three disease areas
Its first phase will start at the beginning of 2017 as a public-private partnership for research and valorisation in which four universities, four regional governments, four health foundations, the national Dutch government and approximately seventeen companies will participate. Belgium will also join the collaboration with VIB, University of Leuven, and University of Leuven Medical Centre. Phase I will focus on three disease areas: type I diabetes, kidney disease and osteoarthritis.
The first objective that has been set for phase I is to bring a new therapy for type I diabetes into a human trial, involving pancreatic β-cells that can produce insulin in response to blood sugar without the need for immunosuppressive agents. The second objective is to create a bioengineered kidney subunit as a major step towards an artificial kidney replacement. The third objective is to create a bioengineered implant for cartilage defects in the knee as a first step towards the goal of creating a biological joint replacement.
RegMed XB starts as a five-year programme that is supported by Top Sector through the use of their PPP-Allowance (former TKI-Allowance), a grant from the Ministry of Economic Affairs. This brings the total budget in the first phase to over 25 million euros. Besides the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, and the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science are supporting the establishment of RegMed XB. The expectations are to raise a budget of 250 million euros to enlarge the programme so that more than 5000 researchers and entrepreneurs can work together on RM.