Singapore’s ES Cell International (ESI), a regenerative medicine company, and Scotland’s ITI Life Sciences, which funds early-stage research in life sciences, said they have signed a non-exclusive research license agreement that would allow ITI to take stem cell research to clinics.
The license announced Monday involves two British patents granted to Singapore-based ESI that cover aspects of human embryonic stem cell growth and differentiation, which are particularly important in clinical applications.
The deal is significant as it would add one more arrow to the United Kingdom’s stem cell quiver. The U.K. already has some of the most advanced policies in the world on stem cell research, funding both agencies and lab-to-clinic programs to perform such research.
Unlike the United States, where embryonic stem cell research is still a controversial, politically charged topic, stem cell research in the U.K. is a streamlined process. The U.K. has been ahead in formulating laws, setting up a stem cell lines bank, allocating funds, and allowing researchers to work with clinicians to take their research to clinics.
The entry of a Singapore company into the U.K. is significant as it will further add to the tools needed to take lab research to clinics.
ESI owns six of the 22 human embryonic stem (hES) cell lines currently listed on the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) Stem Cell Registry, so it is in the forefront of developing basic technologies for doing hES research and developing applications.