Advanced manufacturing could ‘transform’ biologics development

Pharma company UCB is part of a consortium which has won UK government funding to help develop next-generation approaches to manufacturing biologics.

The UK government has awarded a £6.2 million grant to support the development of novel biologic treatments as part of its 2014 Advanced Manufacturing Supply Chain Initiative (AMSCI).

The project aims to tackle some of the most significant challenges in the discovery, development and supply of biologics, which are more complicated and costly to make than traditional ‘small molecule’ drugs.

The hope it that the AMSCI project can help the UK become a world leader in new manufacturing technologies to streamline biologics, with greater efficiencies, lower costs and better quality of treatments.

UCB and Lonza Biologics are lead partners in the consortium, which will be managed by the Centre for Process Innovation. The other members of the consortium are three specialist biotech companies: Sphere Fluidics, Horizon Discovery and Alcyomics, who will contribute expertise in microfluidic single cell analysis, gene editing technology and pre-clinical safety analysis.

Ismail Kola, executive vice president and president UCB NewMedicines, commented: “We are thrilled to receive backing for a project that has the potential to transform the way biologics are brought to market.

The selection of our bid also shows that the UK government recognises the value of investing in the manufacturing of medicines, with incentives such as the AMSCI scheme reinforcing the attractiveness of this country’s life sciences environment. This is a step in the right direction of enabling UK patients to benefit from innovations in the pharmaceutical industry.”

Dr Chris Dowle, director of National Biologics Manufacturing Centre, Centre for Process Innovation said the consortium was well equipped to streamline the biologics development process.

“The increasing emphasis on stratified medicines means that supply chains that were initially designed to deliver a few traditional blockbusters in large quantities must be adapted to develop and manufacture a higher number of diverse therapies. Our goal is to find innovative ways to make this transition while also ensuring affordability.”

The £6.2 million grant will now be subject to due diligence and final confirmation. In addition, the consortium can also call on in-kind contributions from each member to take the total investment to over £11 million.

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