The investment is part of the £180 million Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) and will be dedicated to streamlining the production of medicines.
Three Advanced Therapy Treatment Centres and three biopharmaceutical companies have been given £7.3m in government funding to help them improve the manufacturing process of medicines that would treat illnesses such as blood cancers and inherited disorders.
The iMatch hub, the Northern Alliance Advanced Therapies Treatment Centre, and the Midlands-Wales Advanced Therapy Treatment Centre are the centres that will receive the £3 million. The funds will allow the creation of manufacturing and supply systems that can be operated across the entire NHS and treat many patients.
The Advanced Therapy Treatment Centres will use the money to roll out new cell and gene therapies across the NHS. The Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult will help coordinate the work of the Advanced Therapy Treatment Centres. The government has said this is to “ensure that learning and best practice is shared effectively.”
The biopharmaceutical companies, which are based in London, Oxford and Northumberland will adopt technologies like Artificial Intelligence and robotics to help speed up the manufacturing of new medicines.
Among the companies to gain government funding are the Shepherd’s Bush-based Autolus. The government says Autolus will use the funding to avoid mix-ups of complex medicines on the supply chain by developing a computer-based system that will constantly monitor the operation and improve its efficiency.
“Current Supply Chain approaches and technologies are not well suited to address the specific needs of complex medicines that require manufacture for individual patients in a ‘closed loop’ supply chain”, said Dr Jim Faulkner, SVP, Head of Product Delivery for Autolus. “This grant will support us to establish reliable tracking and tracing of each batch during manufacture and delivery, and will support the release of batches of product on a commercial scale.”
Life Sciences Minister Lord Henley said the new projects “will improve the speed and accuracy with which medicines get to the people that need them. Advances in technology can help us address the challenges that an ageing society presents, and we are backing the technologies of tomorrow in our modern Industrial Strategy, with the biggest increase in public research and development investment in UK history.”
The other businesses that were awarded funding were Alnwick firm ARC Trinova, and Oxford Biomedica. ARC Trinova intend to use the money to create “new technologies to speed up the process of the production of patient specific medicines,” while Oxford Biomedica are looking to reduce lead times for manufacturing by using a new digital and robotics framework to cut costs and waste, and increase capacity.
The investment is part of the £180 million Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF), which is part of the government’s Industrial Strategy, which they hope will raise productivity and earning power in the UK.
Reporting by Harry Wise