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A recent Scottish and Japanese partnership highlights opportunities for cell therapy product development in Scotland. Stephen Baker, the country head for Scottish Development International in Japan, talked about why Scotland is ideal for stem cell collaborations at BIOTech Japan 2014.

As Asia’s largest international biotechnology exhibition and conference, BIOTech Japan 2014 offers delegates the chance to hear about the latest research and achievements within the sector and to network with key industry players - giving rise to new business opportunities, technological innovations and industry-academia collaborations.

Dr Mike Leek, chief executive of start-up biotechnology company TC BioPharm (TCB) and Kunihiko Suzuki, chief executive of Tokyo-listed immune-cell therapy company Medinet, spoke at the event to highlight their new strategic partnership and discuss the cultural, commercial, logistic and regulatory considerations of operating in Japan and Scotland.

Earlier this year, the companies announced their collaboration to develop a novel treatment for various types of cancer in Scotland. As part of this, Medinet is providing financing and exclusively licensing its innovative cell therapy technology to TCB for clinical development in the UK and Europe.

Scottish Enterprise (SE) is working with TCB through its account management approach to support the company’s strategic business planning, investment strategy and international growth opportunities through Scottish Development International (SDI). A £500,000 Regional Selective Assistance award from SE will allow TCB to create 35 new highly skilled jobs in Glasgow over the next 3 years as the company grows, and Glasgow City Council has provided additional funding for academic collaborations. 

Scotland is  one of Europe's leading locations for the development of stem cell technologies. We've established a unique and competitive business environment that's focused on translating research into therapeutic benefits for patients and drug development tools to improve the timeliness of the drug development pathway.

Stephen Baker, country head for Scottish Development International in Japan

This partnership is welcomed the world over. There is a  growing demand for improved cancer treatments, with the global economic toll from cancer estimated to be around £535 billion. It is the second leading cause of economic loss from premature death and disability.

This partnership is also good news for Scotland. Commercialisation of this groundbreaking cancer therapy in Scotland further cements our global reputation for regenerative and stratified medicine. Over the last decade, Scotland has established the regulatory, manufacturing and clinical expertise to lead the world in creating new cell therapies to treat unmet medical needs.

How can stem cell companies work with Scotland?

SDI makes it easy for companies to set up in Scotland by helping them to access the best support available. Scotland’s compact commercial, clinical and academic industry in regenerative medicine is central to this. By bringing together organisations such as Health Sciences Scotland, NHS Research Scotland, Generation Scotland and leading technology-based industrial partners such as SINAPSE, Scotland can offer a streamlined process for cell therapy clinical trials. This not only provides access to the right patients, but supports product development, characterisation and potency development, making the regulatory process much easier.

Scotland was chosen to conduct the UK's first approved ATMP stem cell clinical trial and already has active cell therapies in clinical practice. We have a track record in supporting and implementing cell therapy clinical trials, and we can use our clinical expertise and infrastructure along with technically trained and experienced workforce to help deliver cell therapies into the clinic. Scotland’s strong, concentrated industry cluster means that we have companies that can support cell therapies from discovery through to commercialisation, including novel technologies for characterisation, differentiation and GMP manufacturing.

SDI makes it easy for companies to set up collaborations in Scotland by helping them find the right local partners. We provide this support in Japan to Scottish companies that are looking to build up business links with Japanese partners so they can quickly assess the market and establish if there are business opportunities. We have good relationships with key life science companies in Japan, so Scottish companies can be ahead of the game when they first approach the market.

Scotland is committed to attracting, nurturing and supporting innovative businesses and ensuring that the environment for stem cells and regenerative medicine continues to flourish. Whether you are a company seeking a new location to operate or looking to access our supply chain and people, we have the resource, infrastructure, supportive environment and company base to meet your needs.

Collaborate with stem cell companies in Scotland