Scotland politics

Scottish and US universities to work on medical research projects

The brain scan of a Parkinson's disease
Parkinson's Disease, as illustrated in this brain scan, affects millions worldwide

Scottish and Californian universities will work on research into diseases such as Parkinson's, First Minister Alex Salmond has announced.

The collaboration between Stanford, St Andrews and Heriot Watt was announced during Mr Salmond's trip to the states.

He added that Scotland had some of the world's "best scientific minds" and its university sector was world class.

It is hoped that the research, which is based on studying stem cells, will lead to breakthroughs in medicine.

The research will focus on the potential to regenerate damaged tissue and repair injuries caused by heart attacks, spinal cord injuries and brain injury as a result of stroke or Parkinson's disease.

The Heriot Watt and St Andrews teams will work with research groups at Stanford to examine how stem cells grow and divide and how they change shape to form different types of tissue

Stanford University is already collaborating with six Scottish universities on the SU2P project which has focused on the fields of life sciences and renewable energy.

Mr Salmond said: "The SU2P programme, of which this new research is part, is an excellent example of how we can harness our own country's talents and work in collaboration with international partners to achieve more than the sum of our parts.

"This research has the potential to lead to incredible medical breakthroughs that could not only give new hope to millions but contribute enormously to the economies of both Scotland and California."

Stanford professor Tom Baer said the approach to the project was a simple one - combining the intellectual resources of leading universities.

He added: "Translating advances in the life sciences into medical practice and transforming cutting-edge technologies into ground-breaking diagnostic tools have been major focuses of stem cell research and applied physics activities at Stanford.

"The SU2P programme will build on these Stanford strengths and the pioneering work in stem cell science that have been the hallmark of medical research in Scotland."

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