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UK invests in personalised medicines

The UK's Technology Strategy Board and the Medical Research Council are to jointly invest more than £3.7m in seven major new research projects into personalised medicine

The UK's Technology Strategy Board (TSB) and the Medical Research Council (MRC) are to jointly invest more than £3.7m in seven major new research projects into personalised medicine.

The investment is the first to be made through the Technology Strategy Board-managed Stratified Medicine Innovation Platform (SMIP), an initiative which will oversee an investment of more than £50m of government funding across five years in innovative research and development. The platform covers areas including tumour profiling to improve cancer care and developing biomarkers for more effective drugs.

The seven projects will be lead by AstraZeneca UK, GlaxoSmithKline (three projects), Ig Innovations, Janssen UK and Randox Laboratories. Including contributions from the project partners, the total value of the research and development will be more than £7m.

Iain Gray, the TSB's chief executive, said: "Here in the UK we have many of the strengths needed to accelerate the innovation of stratified – or personalised – medicines and to become a world leader in developing medicines aimed at smaller sub-groups of patients. These investments are the first in a programme that is bringing scientific research, businesses and policymakers together to develop the personalised, targeted drugs and treatments of the future."

Four of the projects are in the area of inflammatory biomarkers for more effective drugs. The projects will develop the use of biomarkers to predict how groups of patients will respond to inflammation and immunology therapies.  In this way, therapies could be given only to relevant patient sub-groups for better results in alleviating symptoms and side effects.

The use of biomarkers in identifying diseases at earlier stages was described as a necessary stop in reducing the financial costs of healthcare during an event at the embassy of Sweden in London on Friday May 13.

The other three projects relate to developing business models and value systems.

The TSB has added Arthritis Research UK as full partners in the SMIP, joining the Department of Health (England), the Scottish Government Health Directorates, the Medical Research Council (MRC), the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) and Cancer Research UK.

23rd May 2011

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