Edinburgh centre offers new hope on incurable disease

Kelsey Wallace from Castlebrae High School with Stuart Forbes to mark the start of building at Little France
Kelsey Wallace from Castlebrae High School with Stuart Forbes to mark the start of building at Little France
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CONSTRUCTION work has begun on a new £50 million medical research centre in the Capital which aims to discover new treatments for incurable diseases.

Edinburgh University’s Centre for Tissue Repair at Little France will focus on how the body repairs its tissues after injury.

Among areas of focus will be the destruction of nerve cells in multiple sclerosis, damage to the liver caused by infections and diseases that affect the lungs.

The centre, in Edinburgh’s BioQuarter, will be close to Edinburgh University’s Anne Rowling Regenerative Neurology Clinic, named in honour of JK Rowling’s mother, who suffered from MS, and established with a £10m donation by the Harry Potter author.

The university beat off competition from Oxford and Cambridge to win funding from the UK Government for the new centre. There were also philanthropic donations, but the university has not confirmed who the donors were.

The centre will bring together experts in stem cell biology, regenerative medicine and inflammation biology under one roof.

Researchers and clinicians will use the latest technology to investigate the mechanisms underlying tissue injury.

They hope to find new treatments to slow, stop or even reverse tissue damage.

The new building will be sited next to the Medical Research Council Centre for Regenerative Medicine, and will be completed in Summer 2020.

Together the two centres will form the university’s Institute for Regeneration and Repair (IRR), a community of more than 600 scientists.

IRR director Professor Stuart Forbes said: “The centre will build on Edinburgh’s long history of excellence in regenerative medicine research, which dates back to before Dolly the sheep. Bringing together world-leading experts onto one site, we hope to speed up the delivery of much-needed treatments for currently incurable disease.”

A new pedestrian link is also being built to improve the walking route between the north and south of the BioQuarter in a bid to foster better collaboration and links across the health and science campus.

The new walkway has been funded by NHS Lothian, Scottish Enterprise and the university.

Hans Moller, director of Edinburgh BioQuarter, said: “Our vision for Edinburgh BioQuarter is to have a network of paths and cycle routes which will bring better connections between researchers, clinicians, healthcare staff, commercial companies, patients and visitors.

“There are plans for a hotel, more cafés and a gym which will offer a welcoming space where people can meet.

“This is an exciting time and I’m delighted to see work starting on the Centre for Tissue Repair. Once it opens the Institute for Regeneration and Repair will boast one of the largest cohorts of stem cell scientists on one site in the world, which is quite remarkable.

“The development will bring many additional benefits to people here, especially in terms of collaboration opportunities, jobs and local community engagement.”

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com