»A third set of teeth, that's a good thing to aim for«

BioRegio STERN Management GmbH organised a panel discussion in the Technologiepark Tübingen-Reutlingen technology park on 30 November 2004. It was attended by representatives from business, science and politics who gathered to discuss their views on "economic development and the future of regenerative medicine in Germany". The interest in regenerated organs, grown from the patient's own cells in the lab, is enormous.

In her opening speech, Lord Mayer of the university city of Tübingen Brigitte Russ-Scherer stressed the need for transfer between science and business, particularly in the field of biotechnology: "We have to make key areas of research into key areas of the economy." BioRegio STERN Managing Director Dr. Klaus Eichenberg presented for the first time the results of a major survey which gauges current feeling on this new branch of science: "It is our contribution to optimising the general conditions for research and turning scientific findings into concrete projects." The study, which looks at the level of awareness, acceptance and the financing of products and processes in the field of regenerative medicine, comes to the conclusion that the outlook for the sector is positive. The respondents, representatives from companies in the fields of tissue engineering, pharmaceutical and medical technology and health funds as well as doctors, researchers and representative sections of the population, believe that there is a particular need for action when it comes to the issue of reimbursing costs for medical services. The results also show that in future companies will have to devote more attention to conducting studies on the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of their products than has been the case in the past.

The panel included Dr. Bruno M. Giannetti, Chairman of the Management Board at Verigen AG, Dr. Detlef Niese, Head of External Relations, Clinical Development at Novartis Pharma, Dr. Axel Polack, venture partner at Techno Venture Management GmbH, Dr. Dominik Roters, legal adviser to the Gemeinsamer Bundesausschuss der Ärzte und Krankenkassen (Federal Joint Committee on Doctors and Health Insurance Funds), Dr. Harald Stallforth, member of the research and development management team at B. Braun-Aesculap and Dr. Ekkehard Warmuth, Head of the Biological Research and Technology Department at the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF). "Given that there are diseases that cannot be treated using traditional methods, we have to explore new avenues and make these affordable," explained Dr. Giannetti. Dr. Niese meanwhile called for more legal certainty and criticised the fact that there is no legislation in place for assessing newly developed treatment methods and products. Dr. Warmuth then rounded off the panel discussion with a look at the future of regenerative medicine: "The ability to grow a third set of teeth is a good thing to aim for." He also gave details of a key issues paper for the "BMBF-Biotechnologie-Tage" conference that will take place in Stuttgart in 2005: "We're not looking simply to encourage, but actually to enable innovations and we are now one step further towards that goal."

The panel discussion took place in cooperation with business consultants Capgemini Deutschland GmbH, BIOPRO Baden-Württemberg GmbH, Technologieparks Tübingen-Reutlingen GmbH, Technologieförderung Tübingen-Reutlingen GmbH and REMEDY, an EU support programme for regenerative medicine.