UCL News


UCL statement in response to media reports on regenerative medicine

31 October 2018

UCL is reviewing the Daily Telegraph's articles which were seriously misleading and gave an inaccurate impression concerning the medical treatment of two individuals who underwent interventions outside of UCL.

UCL statement holding pic

Statement updated at 15:35

UCL and its staff have been open and transparent regarding issues surrounding regenerative medicine research at UCL. In 2016, UCL commissioned an independent special inquiry which was published in full in September 2017.

The panel, chaired by Professor Stephen Wigmore from the University of Edinburgh, carried out a thorough investigation of the involvement of UCL and its personnel in regenerative medicine research but with particular focus on the field of tracheal and large airway tissue engineering. The inquiry made a series of recommendations and UCL is acting upon all of them. 

None of the recipients of the grafts were enrolled in UCL trials. All the individuals were treated under compassionate use procedures operated by the relevant hospitals.

As a world-leading university, UCL takes the integrity of its research very seriously, and we are always seeking to improve our processes and raise our standards. Any research undertaken at UCL is required to conform to the highest legal, ethical and regulatory standards, and we will not hesitate take the necessary action, if and when this falls short.

We are committed to supporting our staff as they continue a wide range of excellent research into regenerative medicine, which has tremendous potential to improve patient outcomes with proper support and governance.

Many of our scientists are leading ground-breaking projects, helping develop new cancer therapies, using artificial intelligence to better predict diseases and innovating new surgical techniques, all of which is transforming the lives of millions of people around the world.

Finally, we want to take this opportunity to offer our deepest sympathy and condolences to the families of patients who died.

The recommendations made by the independent special inquiry, which UCL is acting on are:

  • reporting the inquiry findings to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and the Karolinska Institute, and collaborating with relevant bodies in further investigations.
  • improving the training and support of our staff and students to ensure compliance with regulations pertaining to the clinical use of biomedical devices, and taking steps to clarify and standardise our policies and practices.
  • ensuring that research misconduct investigations are completed in a timely manner and that we are transparent in communicating allegations and findings of investigations, including the assurance that funders are well-informed and that studies are not subject to unnecessary delays.
  • reviewing the honorary appointment process to ensure that candidates are vetted in a consistent manner.
  • working with our partners to seek to standardise oversight and approval processes for products with clinical applications and assist patients interacting with researchers at the interface between academic research and clinical medicine.

For further information and full access to the published report:

•   UCL launches special inquiry into regenerative medicine research - March 2017

•   UCL publishes independent report into regenerative medicine research - September 2017

•   UCL was also lead author in The Lancet Commission: 'Stem cells and regenerative medicine' - October 2017