Medical researchers in Britain and Japan are to join forces in the fight to advance research into treatments for some of the most debilitating degenerative diseases
Prime Minister Theresa May, Business Secretary Greg Clark and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe announced a new £30 million partnership to promote new technology and innovation that could transform whole sectors and enable people to live longer, healthier lives in both countries.
The partnership includes a £10 million programme led by the UK’s Medical Research Council (MRC) and Japan’s Agency for Medical Research and Development (AMED) that will advance regenerative medicine.
The research will help understanding in critical regenerative processes in human health and translate research into tools and technologies to treat patients. This could lead to new therapies for use against many types of cancer, including brain tumours or leukaemia, and repair damage caused by degenerative conditions such as motor neurone disease, Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis.
British and Japanese businesses, including startups, will support this by working together to develop and showcase a new generation of assisted living products. Through a joint competition focused on employing Artificial Intelligence (AI) and robotics in assisted living, they can access funding to help create safe, ethical and intelligent home environments. Additionally, Britain will join Japan in its Well Ageing Society Summit and Global Round Table for Dementia.
Business Secretary Greg Clark said: “The UK and Japan are home to some of the most innovative businesses in the world, and we share the same fundamental belief in the power of enterprise to improve the lives of our citizens.
“This government wants to give older people at least five extra healthy independent years of life by 2035. Our modern Industrial Strategy and its Ageing Society Grand Challenge aims to put the UK at the forefront of new technologies. We can do this most effectively by reaching out to other centres of excellence around the world.
“Japan is the perfect partner with which to build on our strengths in science, medicine and research and to lead the world in developing innovative solutions to help us live longer, healthier lives.”
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “As global leaders, the UK and Japan must work closely together to tackle key emerging issues in healthcare, like the challenges of an ageing population and how we can harness the power of technology to revolutionise care.
“The UK has one of the most advanced health systems in the world and is leading the way in life sciences, genomics and artificial intelligence. Japan will be a crucial partner in the future to develop the next generation of treatments as part of our long term plan for the NHS.”
Digital Secretary Jeremy Wright said: “The UK is a world leader in AI and data and the unrivalled tech hub of Europe. By working closely with a country at the cutting-edge of AI like Japan, we can make sure we remain global leaders in developing tomorrow’s technology to boost investment, grow our economy, improve people’s lives, and support our long term plan for the NHS.”
Dr Mark Palmer, Director of International Strategy at the MRC, said: “Regenerative medicine is a fast-moving, interdisciplinary field that holds the promise of revolutionising medical treatments. The UK and Japan are world leaders in regenerative medicine research and we very much look forward to the opportunity for further collaborative efforts in this field through a joint programme.”