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Stem Cell Research in Finland/EU

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On November 6th, the European Science Foundation (ESF) published a report titled, "Human Stem Cell Research and Regenerative Medicine." This report discussed the state of stem cell research policy in the European Union (EU). According to the authors, Europe has an “unprecedented opportunity to leverage on the benefits of the investments and efforts made to date”. However, the report also details how fragmented and restrictive national stem cell policies may limit the funds availbale for this important area of scientific research. For example, the ESF found that 63% of 19 EU countries studied had somewhat or very permissive policies with respect to the funding of stem cell research. Of the 19, Belgium, Sweden and the UK are very permissive, and even allow the creation of embryos for research under specific conditions. On the other hand, Croatia, Germany, Lithuania, Luxembourg and Slovakia are very restrictive, according to the ESF report. In additonal to national differences in stem cell research policy, the ESF report also describes how innovation policies and regulations are restrictive throughout Europe. As an example, the report cites the recent European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling that patents based on the destruction of embryos are illegal in the EU. 
The report confirms that the EU has a a “vibrant community of scientists and innovators” working in the field of stem cell research, and the authors concludes that this communtiy will benefit from continued research funding. The ESF report also suggest that in addition to a more favorable stem cell policy and continued funding, it is vital for the EU to communicate with the public about the progress being made in the field as well as impacts on healthcare. Further, contued funding is vital to better understand the safety and most suitable legislation for each stem cell therapy.
At the Finnish national level, stem cell research is regulated by the Medical Research Act 1999/488. The act allows research on embryos that are left over following fertility treatment for up to 14 days after fertilization. After this, the embryos must be destroyed. The act also allows for embryos to be frozen for up 15 years, after which destruction must follow. The creation of embryos for research is banned unless specifically for finding new cures and treatments for serious diseases. The act defines an embryo as “a living group of cells resulting from fertilization not implanted in a woman’s body.” Hence somatic cell nuclear transfer is not forbidden in Finnish law.
In additon to the stem cell research done at CDR, other notable stem cell research efforst in Finland include the Biocenter Finland Stem Cell and Biomaterial Network (of which CDR is also a member), and the BioMediTech Regenerative Medicine Initiative at the University of Tampere.
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Paul Bromann received his Ph.D. in Neuroscience in 1999 (Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, USA) and completed postdoctoral fellowships at Washington University Medical School (Saint Louis, MO, USA) and Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute (San Diego, CA, USA). Dr. Bromann has extensive experience in protein engineering and also has several years of project management experience in academia as well as in industry. He served as Senior Scientist and Project Manager at NexBio, Inc./Ansun BioPharma (San Diego, CA, USA), where he led and managed a multi-disciplinary group project to develop a recombinant protein therapeutic, Sepcidin, to treat viral and inflammatory diseases. He also served as Research Scientist/Project Manager at VTT, Technical Research Centre of Finland. At VTT, Dr. Bromann internally managed a large EU project called Metaexplore, and led efforts to develop state-of-the-art metagenomics techniques for discovering and commercially exploiting novel enzymes for industrial applications. As part of the CDR’s commitment to developing novel biological and natural product drug discovery and pharmaceutical nanotechnology tools, Dr. Bromann serves as Research Manager for the CDR. He provides support to the Director in the development and management activities of the CDR including: promoting and coordinating collaboration with domestic and international industry, academia, and government agencies; and, the facilitation of patenting and technology transfer of CDR innovations.


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Guest Thursday, 18 January 2018