Swedish stem cell boost coincides with call for more basic funding

March 26, 2002

Brussels, 25 March 2002

Swedish stem cell research is to receive an extra 75 million Swedish Kroner (SEK) or 8.3 million euro over five years.

The funds will be donated by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International (50 million SEK or 5.5 million euro), the Swedish Research Council (20 million SEK or 2.2 million euro) and the Swedish Association of Diabetes Research (5 million SEK or 550,000 euro).

The announcement coincides with an appeal, following the first ever survey of Swedish stem cell research, for increased funding of basic stem cell research and increased collaboration with scientists in other fields.

The funding agreement will provide support for research on the derivation and characterisation of new human embryonic stem cell lines, the characterisation of existing pluripotent human stem cell lines, stem cell culture conditions and the regulation of cell differentiation and development. It will also support a study of the legal and ethical aspects of embryonic stem cell research.

Stefan Leufstadt, Chairman of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International, said: 'Swedish researchers are at the international forefront in the field of stem cells. The agreement strengthens the great potential for development that exists here.' He added that while he is hopeful that increased knowledge may help to alleviate or cure diabetes, 'we are aware that much basic research is needed before we can get there.'

Harriet Wallberg-Henriksson, General Secretary of the scientific council for medicine at the Swedish Research Council, added that the agreement 'strengthens broad research in a field that has been judged to require urgent support.'

In a separate development, the first ever survey of Swedish stem cell research has concluded that researchers can boost their success by improving collaboration between research groups and increasing the number of scientists using incentives such as the introduction of 'come home' grants for researchers who have been working abroad. The investigation also calls for an increase in funding for basic research on stem cells and a review of the rules for commercial interests.

But Professor Lennart Enerbäck of Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Gothenburg, who carried out the research along with Professor Jan Lindsten from the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, cautioned that 'what constitutes stem cell research is not yet unambiguous.' Overlap between stem cell research and work in related areas such as cell biology makes it difficult to evaluate and target resources for stem cell research.

For further information, please contact:

Kajsa Eriksson
Swedish Research Council
Tel: +46 8 456 44 216
E-mail: kajsa.eriksson@vr.se

CORDIS RTD-NEWS/© European Communities, 2001

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