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AstraZeneca and University College London in stem cell research partnership

The new partnership is intended to develop diabeties medicine.

Drug company AstraZeneca on Monday announced its plans to enter into a research partnership with University College London (UCL) to develop treatments for diabetic retinopathy using stem cell technology.

AstraZeneca and UCL scientists are of the view that the regenerative property of stem cells could help in improving the damaged eye sight of patients suffering from the disease.

Under the three-year deal which will be funded by AstraZeneca, the company's researchers will partner with the university's scientists at the Institute of Ophthalmology to develop medicines for the treatment of diabetic retinopathy. Following clinical trials, the company hopes to bring out the drugs in the open market within the decade.

Dr Marcus Fruttiger from the institute, who is leading the project, said: "These tools could be used either to manufacture transplantable material or to directly stimulate new cell growth in the eye, to help restore or improve the vision of those with diabetic retinopathy."

Alan Lamont, director of sciences and technology alliances at AstraZeneca, said that the company was very keen on the whole area of regenerative medicine and the area will be part of its research development over the next few years.