$50M to advance regenerative medicine in Minnesota

State legislators agreed last spring to fund efforts that could unlock new cures and treatments for some of the most devastating health conditions facing our population, allotting nearly $50 million over the next 10 years to regenerative medicine research in Minnesota.

Rep. Erin Murphy, a registered nurse and majority leader of the Minnesota House, and Sen. Katie Sieben, assistant majority leader, spearheaded the legislation, which was supported by the University of Minnesota Stem Cell Institute and the Mayo Clinic Center for Regenerative Medicine.

The new law provides $4.35 million in grant funds annually, starting next year. A committee of outside experts will evaluate proposals based on how they affect Minnesota communities, whether they hold the promise of creating jobs, and possible industrial and clinical applications. A five-member board that includes a representative from the U, Mayo Clinic, private industry, and two other stakeholder groups will make the final funding decisions.

Scientists are investigating regenerative medicine’s ability to help cure ailments such as dementia, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease by boosting the body’s natural ability to heal itself; using healthy cells, tissues, or organs from a living or deceased donor to replace damaged ones; or delivering specific types of cells or cell products to restore function in diseased tissues and organs.

“The fact is, we’ve reached the ceiling on many current treatment methods, especially for chronic diseases, and regenerative medicine may open new doors and opportunities,” says Jakub Tolar, M.D., Ph.D., director of the University’s Stem Cell Institute. “Because of the ability of the body’s complex mechanisms to rebuild themselves on so many levels, regenerative medicine can be an exceptional tool in just about any discipline.”

Published on March 24, 2015