UK and Japan award eight Regenerative Medicine projects


The Medical Research Council (MRC) and the Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development (AMED) have joined forces to support eight new Regenerative Medicine research partnerships. Four of these involve researchers from the University of Cambridge.

In this landmark collaboration, MRC and AMED will make a total of almost £7 million available to support collaborative projects that seek to advance regenerative approaches towards clinical use.

The funded projects will focus on research to underpin the early-stage development of novel regenerative medicine-based therapies for a range of disorders, including, Parkinson’s disease, blood disorders and liver diseases, or to utilise stem cells as important medical research tools to study human development.

Professor Fiona Watt, Executive Chair at the Medical Research Council and Dr Yoshinao Mishima, President at the Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development jointly said:

“We are delighted to announce these new awards in collaboration with our partners. The UK and Japan are world leaders in stem cell and regenerative medicine research.

“Past pioneering work in our countries has had a transformative impact and has revolutionised the potential for innovative approaches to medicine. It is timely to bring our world leading groups together in their efforts to tackle the same therapeutic goals.

“Regenerative Medicine is a strategic priority for the MRC and AMED, and these excellent international partnerships will complement our existing investments in Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell research and add real value to the field.”

Regenerative medicine is an interdisciplinary research field that seeks to develop the science and tools to help repair or replace damaged or diseased human tissue to restore normal function.

As a form of ‘advanced therapy’ regenerative medicine has the potential to address a number of currently incurable degenerative conditions and is poised to revolutionise medical treatment in the 21st century.

All regenerative medicine strategies depend upon harnessing, stimulating or guiding our naturally occurring developmental or repair processes, and could involve transplantation of cells, stimulation of the body’s own repair processes, or the use of cells as delivery vehicles for therapeutic agents.

This exciting new area of joint research also marks an important milestone in UK-Japanese bilateral relations, with the initiative playing a key role in strengthening cooperation between leading UK and Japanese researchers in the field.


MRC, part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), is funding these projects via  UKRI’s  Fund for International Collaboration (FIC). FIC aims to enhance the UK’s excellence in research and innovation through global engagement. It focuses on bilateral and multilateral partnerships with global research and development leaders and is administered by UKRI.


AMED supports the Japanese components of the collaborative projects through “The Program for Technological Innovation of Regenerative Medicine”. This program implements objective-achievement-type basic research, based on original ideas that advance the development of the field of stem cells and regenerative medicine.

The main purpose of this program is to develop seeds of next-generation innovative medicine; therefore, emphasis is on research that will be of high international competitiveness, research based on innovative and creative ideas, and research that contributes to technological innovation.

The following studies have been awarded through this initiative:

Alfonso Martinez Arias

University of Cambridge

Cantas Alev

Kyoto University

3D Human Axial Development In Vitro: using novel human in vitro somitogenesis models to study birth defects with patient-relevant iPS cell lines

Jonathan Dawson

University of Southampton

Yasuhiko Tabata

Kyoto University

Elucidating and modulating macrophage and stem cell responses to bioactive nanoclays for bone regeneration

Cedric Ghevaert

University of Cambridge

Koji Eto

Kyoto University

Generating platelets in vitro for the clinic: optimisation and added clinical efficacy

Keisuke Kaji

University of Edinburgh

Kosuke Yusa

Kyoto University

Reprogramming adult human hepatocytes into liver progenitors with unlimited self-renewal, efficient differentiation, and transplantation capacities

David Kent

University of York

Satoshi Yamazaki

The University of Tokyo

Human blood stem cell expansion: Empowering new technology for stem cell medicine

Tilo Kunath

University of Edinburgh

Asuka Morizane

Kyoto University

Non-invasive monitoring of human pluripotent stem cell differentiation into midbrain dopaminergic neural cells

Simon Mendez-Ferrer

University of Cambridge

Hitoshi Takizawa

Kumamoto University

Improving haematopoietic reconstitution in blood stem cell transplantation procedures through the regulation of stem cells and their niches

Benjamin Simons

University of Cambridge

Shosei Yoshida

National Institute for Basic Biology

Harnessing spermatogonial stem cell flexibility to increase transplantation efficiency

To read more information, click here.

The Medical Research Council has been at the forefront of scientific discovery to improve human health. Founded in 1913 to tackle tuberculosis, the MRC now invests taxpayers’ money in some of the best medical research in the world across every area of health.

MRC [Medical Research Council]