Danny Alexander with Michael Hunt and John Sinden

Danny Alexander with ReNeuron CEO Michael Hunt and CSO and Founder Dr John Sinden

Earlier this week (23 July) the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, the Rt Hon Danny Alexander MP, visited BIA member company ReNeuron, a leading, clinical-stage stem cell business. It was very positive to see a senior member of the UK government keen to engage with the sector and understand the challenges to developing innovative medicines and therapeutics for areas of unmet medical need.

Danny Alexander’s visit came at an opportune time, coming as it did just a day after ReNeuron’s positive news of a significant £33 million financing package and plans to build a new manufacturing facility in Wales. The latest fundraising is a significant boost to the regenerative medicine sector and a solid commitment to the UK.

Meeting with Chief Executive Michael Hunt, Chief Scientific Office Dr John Sinden and Antonis Papasolomontos from the BIA, the discussion covered a wide range of issues with the Minister keen to explore the state of the sector and the challenges of developing advanced therapies.

Discussing government support for the sector, Michael and John were able to outline the positive difference schemes such as the Biomedical Catalyst, other TSB funding calls and the Cell Therapy Catapult makes for a small company translating medical research towards the point of clinical proof-of-concept. As an AIM quoted SME, ReNeuron may also benefit from recent positive changes made by HM Treasury including the removal of Stamp Duty on trading in AIM shares and allowing funds held in stocks and shares ISAs to be directly invested in AIM companies.

With government changes to the fiscal environment seen as largely positive discussions moved on to the recent House of Lords Select Committee report into regenerative medicine and in particular its recommendations around the use of regulatory flexibilities, such as an Earlier Access to medicines Scheme, and the important issue of getting the assessment, evaluation and reimbursement framework clearly established and able to fairly deal with new innovative regenerative medicine products as they come to market.

Danny Alexander at ReNeuron

Danny Alexander on a lab tour at ReNeuron

There was also time for a lab tour of the facilities where the Minister had a chance to see the science first hand and understand a little more about ReNeuron’s innovative technology and lead programmes in stroke, critical limb ischaemia and blindness-causing diseases of the retina.