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MedCity sets up advanced therapy research network

Aims to capitalise on UK's expertise in cutting-edge field

The UK’s  life sciences hub MedCity has launched an initiative to foster greater collaboration between industry and academia in cell, tissue and gene therapies.

These therapies – collectively known as advanced therapy medicinal products (ATMP) in European regulatory parlance – are relatively new entrants onto the market but are expected to grow quickly to reach a value of around £14bn by 2025, says MedCity.

Sarah Haywood

MedCity's Sarah Haywood

The organisation, which was established in 2014, wants to bring academic researchers into contact with their counterparts in the more than 130 advanced therapy companies operating in the UK, of which around 60% are operating in the southeast of England, in the Advanced Therapies Network (ATN).

“The aim of the network is to…share ideas and successes, and ultimately, accelerate discoveries in this revolutionary area of life sciences,” said MedCity’s chief executive Sarah Heywood.

It starts life with £5m in funding from Research England and collaboration from King’s College London, Imperial College London, and University College London.

“Unlike conventional medicines, advanced therapies offer revolutionary treatments which repair, replace, regenerate and re-engineer genes, cells and tissues to restore normal function, sometimes offering cures where acute unmet medical need exists,” said MedCity in a statement.

UK companies operating int his area include university spinouts Orchard Therapeutics, Autolus, Cell Medica, GammaDelta and Quethera.

Earlier this year, MedCity organised a showcase of cell and gene therapy expertise at eight National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Biomedical Research Centres (BRCs) in the ‘golden triangle’ extending between London, Oxford and Cambridge, with speakers noting that the UK is a leader in ATMP clinical trials, recruiting more patients into studies than top US specialist centres such as Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) as well as France.

Other initiatives in ATMP are already ongoing in the UK as it tries to build momentum in this area. The government-funded Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult is currently building a £55m large-scale GMP manufacturing centre to help bring cell and gene therapies to market, and is working on setting up a network of ATMP treatment centres.

The Catapult has invested £500m in 53 companies over the last few years, including eight new start-ups.
Meanwhile King’s College London has committed to develop a £30m ATMP centre at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust – with funding split £10m from public money and £20m from the private sector – and Genomics England’s 100,000 Genomes Project has been expanded to aim for 1m whole genomes sequenced by the NHS and UK Biobank in five years.

Previous MedCity projects have included building a research network in digital health and creating forum to connect new companies with venture capital backers.

Article by
Phil Taylor

9th November 2018

From: Research

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