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Advanced therapies to benefit from new investment in skills and capabilities

Posted on 05/06/2018

Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult announces £3m funding to advance life sciences through skills and apprenticeships as part of the Industrial Strategy.

The Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult will lead a £3 million investment to scale up skills and training in the UK’s life sciences industry.

It will create new skills and capabilities to bridge the gap between the regulatory approval of cell and gene therapies and their eventual integration into front-line health services. This takes up the recommendations put forward in Sir John Bell’s report into life sciences and industrial strategy.

The funding comes from UK Research and Innovation through Innovate UK.

Patients respond differently to medicines and treatments, and that means having to develop and manufacture many different types of medicines, in order to get the right fit for the individual. The challenge is being able to take these from discovery through to use on the frontline.

Keith Thompson, CEO, Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult, said:

“Cell and gene therapies live at the leading edge of medical and scientific possibility, but medicines discovery and clinical development are only half the story.

“Key to widespread adoption in health services is the unique skills and capability set required to manufacture, supply and administer these important medicines to patients.”

The £3 million investment for the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult is part of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund for leading-edge healthcare, which seeks to accelerate the development and manufacture of advanced therapies, medicines and vaccines, and other digital health products and technologies.

Of the total amount being invested, £1.5 million will go towards the development of apprenticeships with the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult. This will be done jointly with Medicines Manufacturing Industry Partnership (MMIP), which is a joint venture between government and the biopharmaceutical industry that represents medicine manufacturers in the UK.

The remaining £1.5 million will support the development of new capabilities through the UK-wide network of advanced therapies treatment centres.

These centres are being established from a £21 million investment by Innovate UK through challenge fund. They are collaborations between industry, academic and NHS partners. The 3 centres are:

  • Innovate Manchester Advanced Therapy Centre Hub
  • Midlands-Wales Advanced Therapy Treatment Centre, which comprises Birmingham, Wales and Nottingham
  • Northern Alliance Advanced Therapies Treatment Centre, which comprises Scotland, Newcastle and Leeds

Capabilities planned for the centres include technologies that provide full traceability, facilitate appropriate patient follow up and data capture.

Andy Evans, Site Lead (VP) for Macclesfield Multi-Format Facility at AstraZeneca and MMIP Chair, said:

“The UK is maintaining a strong global lead in the development of advanced therapies and is rightly turning its attention to bringing the skills necessary to translate discovery to successful patient care.

“Anchoring the development, manufacture and use of these potentially curative medicines in the UK is critical and we are excited to embark on the next stage of the journey towards apprenticeships, training and highly-skilled job creation.”

Dr Ian Campbell, Executive Chair, Innovate UK, added:

“The investment by Innovate UK in these centres builds on its existing track record for innovation in medical science to tackle some of the most debilitating and devastating medical conditions affecting people today, including cancer, heart failure, ophthalmic disease and neurological conditions.

“We are excited to be driving forward our mission to integrate a new generation of medicines into mainstream healthcare and also building the UK’s position as a global hub in clinical development and commercialisation.”

This investment is the latest for the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult. Earlier this year it opened a new manufacturing centre at Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst in Hertfordshire.

The manufacturing centre – operating to good manufacturing practice (GMP) standards – will provide infrastructure, manufacturing capabilities and systems that support large-scale cell and gene therapy clinical studies and accelerate commercialisation.

You can find out more about the UK’s network of Catapult centres here.

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