Castle, DeGette hope to bolster regenerative-medicine research

A pair of House lawmakers this week introduced legislation designed to improve regenerative medical practices — the field that aims to create living tissue to repair and replace damaged tissues and organs.

Reps. Mike Castle (R-Del.) and Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) said their proposal, which would authorize $850 million toward regenerative medicine research, will help tackle some of the country's most pressing healthcare troubles, including the perennial shortage of organs available for transplant.

"From diabetes to spinal cord injuries and ALS to cancer, regenerative medicine has the potential to help solve some of our most troubling medical conditions, and the need for new products for patients has never been greater," the lawmakers said in a joint statement.

Specifically, the bill would:

• Require the government to report what steps it is taking to improve regenerative medicine.

• Create a panel to devise a national strategy for improving regenerative medicine.

• Create two grant programs through the National Institutes of Health to (1) encourage research collaboration between industry and academia and (2) offer funding to private companies "for basic research, pre-clinical studies and clinical trials."

• Offer grants through the Food and Drug Administration for "regulatory research."

"By fostering a national strategy for regenerative medicine," Castle and DeGette said, "this bill will provide new grant opportunities for academic-industry collaboration in this important field, and help ensure the United States is a leader in medical innovation."