Japan-UK £30 million partnership to tackle degenerative diseases

Medical researchers in Britain and Japan are to join forces in the fight to advance research into treatments for some of the most debilitating degenerative diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and arthritis. £30 million is to be made available to promote innovation.

£10 million will go towards a joint programme between the UK's Medical Research Council (MRC) and Japan’s Agency for Medical Research and Development (AMED) to fund research into critical regenerative processes in human health and translate research into tools and technologies to treat patients. This could lead to new therapies for use against many types of cancer, including brain tumours or leukaemia, and repair damage caused by degenerative conditions such as motor neurone disease, Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis.

As part of the programme, a competition will make funding available to businesses, including startups. The focus of the competition will be on the use of AI and robotics in assisted living to help create safe, ethical and intelligent home environments. 

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: "As global leaders, the UK and Japan must work closely together to tackle key emerging issues in healthcare, like the challenges of an ageing population and how we can harness the power of technology to revolutionise care."

Digital Secretary Jeremy Wright added: "The UK is a world leader in AI and data and the unrivalled tech hub of Europe. By working closely with a country at the cutting-edge of AI like Japan, we can make sure we remain global leaders in developing tomorrow’s technology to boost investment, grow our economy, improve people’s lives, and support our long term plan for the NHS."

A further £20 million in joint funding will support collaborations between British and Japanese researchers for the use of robotics and AI to carry out tasks too dangerous for humans.