Twin boosts for life sciences in Lords report

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SCOTLAND’S life sciences sector was given a double boost yesterday with the House of Lords calling for the streamlining of “regenerative medicine” rules, while medical testing kit maker Omega Diagnostics eyed a $160 million (£105m) market.

The Lords science and technology committee warned that the UK is “under-prepared” for the opportunities presented by regenerative medicine, such as using stem cells to repair damage to patients’ bodies.

Committee chairman Lord Krebs said: “We also need a co-ordinated approach so that we can translate the successful research that we have in the UK into medical results. Investors need to see the route from bench to bedside.”

Michael Hunt, chief executive at ReNeuron, the Aim-quoted company that uses hospitals in Dundee and Glasgow for its stem cell work, added: “The potential barriers to commercialisation identified in the report are real and important and we endorse the recommendations proposed in the report to address them.”

News of the Lords’ report came as Alva-based Omega reported that it is gearing up to grab a slice of the HIV testing market in Africa, where charities have set aside $160m to buy diagnostic kits for in the field.

Omega yesterday posted a 1 per cent rise in turnover to £11.3m, with a 13 per cent increase in sales of its food intolerance kits helping to outweigh a “poor” pollen season in Europe, which had dented sales of its allergy tests by 7 per cent.

Chairman David Evans said “it is now time to deliver” on the company’s strategies.