A committee of the House of Lords has launched an inquiry into whether the government is doing enough to help UK innovators translate knowledge from world-leading research in the field of regenerative medicine into treatments, and benefit from the associated commercial opportunities.

The UK is a world leader in many areas of regenerative medicine, notes the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee, in its call for evidence for the inquiry. As well as the potential medical benefits, which might include improvements in the treatment of chronic diseases, regenerative medicine presents the possibility for generating economic growth for the companies developing therapies and the UK economy, it adds.

Some of the questions which the Committee investigation will be asking are:

- How does the UK rank internationally in regenerative medicine? What are the UK's strengths and weaknesses in the field? Who are the major funders?

- Is the science being translated into practical applications? What treatments are available on the NHS and privately?

- What is the potential for regenerative medicine in the next 5-10 years?

- What are the regulatory barriers and challenges to innovation in this interdisciplinary field? How can these be overcome?

- What is the current and potential value of the sector to the UK economy?

- Is the government doing enough to attract investment in companies working in this area? What business models are most appropriate to support development in this area? and

- What can the UK learn from international competitors about supporting the development and commercialisation of regenerative medicine? What risks do UK citizens face when travelling to other countries for regenerative treatments?

In its call for evidence, the Committee also says that it wants to explore "how realistic some of the reported claims of regenerative treatments and therapies are, both in the UK and internationally."

"Regenerative medicine is a most exciting area of medicine, which is rapidly developing and could potentially deliver real improvements in health care," said the committee's chairman, Lord Krebs.

"The UK has an excellent track record of research in this area, but we want to find out if government is doing enough to address regulatory barriers and challenges to innovation in this field," he said. 

"Regenerative medicine has the potential not only to lead to significant improvements in the treatment of chronic diseases, such as diabetes and certain kinds of blindness, but also to be a driver of growth for the pharmaceutical sector, thus contributing to the growth of UK Plc," added Lord Krebs.