SKAN Research Trust (SKAN), promoted by Indian entrepreneur Ashok Soota, is collaborating with the UK-based Wellcome-MRC Cambridge Stem Cell Institute (CSCI), to bring expertise in stemcell research into the country.
A series of partnership agreements were signed in Cambridge on Thursday, including one involving a joint research project to study the “genomic landscape of neuro-degenerative diseases of ageing in an Indian cohort”.
“The collaboration will support SKAN in creating a world-class stem cell centre in Bangalore and the application of bioinformatics to leverage the power of this technology,” said Ashok Soota, Chairman and Managing Trustee of SKAN.
What is the project all about?
Stem cells have offered researchers a unique opportunity to transform health through regenerative medicine, a note on the development said. CSCI and SKAN will jointly undertake specific research projects in stem cells and use their findings to improve the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases, it added.
The agreements included, consultancy and secondment frameworks for knowledge transfer and training from CSCI to SKAN. The joint research, led by CSCI Principal Investigator Dr Jyoti Nangalia will study both normal brain tissue and neurological diseases to identify age-related genomic changes in the Indian population. Dr Nangalia, Group Leader at the Wellcome-MRC Stem Cell Institute and Wellcome Sanger Institute, said the joint journey “would unlock genomic insights into age-related brain diseases, addressing their growing burden in society with advanced DNA sequencing capabilities.”
Through multiple consultancy agreements, CSCI and SKAN have agreed to a three-year period of knowledge transfer. SKAN will upgrade its stem cell and bioinformatics capabilities including sequencing technologies with concomitant cell culture methodologies. CSCI researchers will benefit by amplifying the scope of their research through Indian cohorts and studies, the note said.
SKAN is a Bengaluru-based not-for-profit medical research trust focussed on transformational technologies in human genomics, stem cells, gut microbiome, molecular biology, and transformational artificial intelligence applied to areas of ageing and neurological ailments to achieve breakthrough therapies. In 2021, when it was created, Soota had committed ₹200 crore to SKAN. The Wellcome-MRC Cambridge Stem Cell Institute researches normal and pathological stem cell behaviour.