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UK initiatives to boost collaboration

UK Universities and Science Minister, David Willetts, announced two new initiatives to foster academic, clinician and life science collaboration

At the joint Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI)/BioIndustry Association (BIA) conference in London on October 25, UK Universities and Science Minister David Willetts announced two new initiatives, namely the Therapeutic Capability Clusters to be led by the Office for Strategic Co-ordination of Health and Research (OSCHR) and the Medical Research Council (MRC)/ABPI Inflammation and Immunology Initiative.

The Therapeutic Capability Clusters initiative is designed to boost collaboration between academics, clinicians and the life sciences industry to help deliver the medicines of the future faster to UK patients and secure the UK's position as the global partner of choice for R&D collaboration. Offering intellectual excellence, patient access, and a single point of contact with which industry can engage, these Clusters will ensure the UK has the commercial and cultural environment to support strong collaboration and to maintain and grow the UK's world-class R&D. This is crucial as the UK faces competition from other countries for highly-mobile private sector investment.

The MRC/ABPI Inflammation and Immunology Initiative is founded on plans by the MRC to invest more than £10m in consortia in these two pilot disease areas, complementing the Therapeutic Capability Clusters programme. The initiative represents a new approach in funding by the MRC, bringing together academics and industry at the early planning stages to develop a stratified approach to disease (targeting the right treatments to the right people), enabling effective clinical trials as well as identifying novel biomarkers, mechanisms and targets.

According to Nigel Gaymond, BIA chief executive: "The launch of the Therapeutic Capability Clusters initiative is a prime example of how the UK's strengths in academia and the NHS can be harnessed to accelerate the development of medicines. This innovative approach to clinical research has great potential for patients in an area of unmet medical need."

Dr Richard Barker, director general of the ABPI and co-chair of the Supercluster initiative with Professor Sir John Bell, said: "The Therapeutic Capability Clusters initiative, born in our work with the Office for Life Sciences, will create true comparative advantage for the UK in translational medicine. This programme capitalises on our vibrant and economically important life science sector, to attract increased inward investment from the global pharmaceutical industry. We are also delighted to partner with the MRC in tackling illnesses such as inflammatory lung disease, which causes thousands of premature deaths every year. This is good news for the NHS patients of the future."

25th October 2010

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