Government announces the launch of a new partnership between academia and the health industry to booster the UK's image as a viable investment location for emerging pharmaceutical production.
Science Minister David Willetts and Health Minister Lord Howe have today launched an initiative to boost partnership between academics, clinicians and the life sciences industry in order to deliver the medicines of the future faster. The launch comes hard on the heels of the skills review, BioVision, by Sector Skills Council, Cogent, which investigates British capabilities in the biotechnology industry. This sector permeates 80% of the pharmaceuticals industry and will form a central part of research programmes in coming years.
Today’s collaborative partnership programme, named the Therapeutic Capability Clusters, will develop three-way partnerships between the life sciences industry, clinicians and academics. Collaborations will involve our best researchers in the NHS and academia working with industry researchers on promising new drugs and interventions. Together they will develop the best approaches to run experimental medicine studies and find novel ways to treating or diagnosing a whole range of inflammatory diseases.
According to Cogent research biopharmaceuticals, including therapeutics is predicated to grow steadily over the next few years with further rapid growth expected in diagnostics. A life sciences advisory council has already been launched by Cogent to support this growth and will involve industry representatives, predominantly from small businesses, which dominate in niche production for pharmaceuticals.
Today’s announcement saw the launch of the first phase of the Clusters programme, establishing the first two clusters in inflammatory respiratory disease (such as asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)) and in joint and related inflammatory diseases (such as arthritis).
These clusters are the first in the world to be established around specific therapy areas. They will help to ensure that the UK’s world-class capabilities are harnessed so that experimental research is translated faster into innovative treatments that make a difference to people’s lives and help us to achieve our aim of having world-class health outcomes.
During his speech Mr Willetts also announced plans by the Medical Research Council (MRC) to invest more than £10m in consortia in two disease areas, complementing the Therapeutic Capability Clusters programme.
The MRC/ABPI Inflammation and Immunology Initiative represents the first phase of a new approach in funding by the MRC, bringing together academics and industry at the early R&D 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.
Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts said: “As Government works to rebalance and grow the UK economy, it is vital that the UK continues to be an attractive environment and the global partner of choice for collaboration in life sciences.
“These Therapeutic Capability Clusters are a world first and I am hugely excited by the potential they and the MRC/ABPI Inflammation and Immunology Initiative offer for UK R&D and our delivery of innovative medicines to patients faster in areas of unmet medical need.“
The ministerial announcement was made at the announcement while speaking at the BioIndustry Association (BIA) and the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) conference “Our vision for a new decade”.
Developed with industry under the Office for Life Sciences, the Therapeutic Capability Clusters programme is being overseen by the Office for Strategic Coordination of Health and Research (OSCHR).