New centre for stem cell research ready for action
The Research Council has played a key role in establishing the new national centre for stem cell research which recently opened its doors in Oslo.
The establishment of the centre was made possible by an amendment to the Biotechnology Act which as of 2008 permits research on supernumerary fertilised eggs and embryonic stem cells to be conducted in Norway.
Stem cells have the potential to be useful in the treatment of diseases such as cancer, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, HIV/AIDS and osteoporosis as well as for spinal cord injuries.
“Stem cell research is a pioneering area within the field of medical research,” stated Minister of Health and Care Services Anne-Grete Strøm-Erichsen when she officially opened the Norwegian Center for Stem Cell Research. Formally part of the Oslo University Hospital Trust, the centre is housed at University of Oslo (UiO) facilities in close proximity to Rikshospitalet University Hospital.
Through its research activities, the centre will develop and enhance expertise within basic and clinical research on stem cells in order to find treatment for seriously ill patients.
In her remarks at the opening, the Minister of Health and Care Services noted that Norwegian researchers are already in the forefront globally within research on cancer stem cells and stems cells in bone marrow, connective tissue and brain tissue. She also emphasised the tremendous importance of addressing the ethical aspects of research on stem cells.
The field of stem cell research is growing at increasingly rapid pace internationally, and has been an area of focus in Norway since 2002.
One of the new centre’s most important tasks is to link basic research on stem cells more closely to clinical research. According to the centre’s director Joel Glover, a professor at UiO’s Institute of Basic Medical Sciences, the aim is to improve the quality of stem cell-based treatments for a range of diseases to equal the best found abroad.
Research Council boosting support
The Research Council will provide a total of NOK 28 million in funding to the centre over a five-year period.
From 2002, when the first strategic initiative on stem cell research was launched, through to 2013 the Research Council will have allocated some NOK 170 million to this vital area of research, including funding for the new national centre. Activities in this field are administered under the Stem Cell Research Programme, which was launched in 2008.
The Research Council also funds stem cell research via a number of other programmes and initiatives, including the NevroNor initiative, the Cancer Stem Cell Innovation Centre (CAST – a Centre for Research-based Innovation), the Centre for Molecular Biology and Neuroscience and the Centre for Cancer Biomedicine (both Centres of Excellence), as well as the Centre for Molecular Medicine Norway at UiO, which is part of the Nordic partnership with the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL).
Source: The Research Council of Norway