UK Cell Therapy Catapult offers world-beating facilities

Business Secretary Vince Cable opens Cell Therapy Catapult's state-of-the-art facilities in London

Dr Vince Cable (fourth from left) toured the innovative facilities at the Cell Therapy Catapult

The UK Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, Dr Vince Cable, has officially opened the Cell Therapy Catapult's innovative new facilities at Guy's Hospital in London. The Cell Therapy Catapult, which is focused on the development of the UK cell therapy industry, moved into the 1,200m2 development in March.

With well-equipped and modular laboratories, plus space for meetings and networking, this cell therapy centre of excellence has been designed to promote collaboration and innovation across the sector in the UK and globally. The facility includes laboratories designed to mimic manufacturing suites, enabling the progress of cell therapies from the laboratory scale to commercial scale-ready using the pilot process development expertise at the Cell Therapy Catapult. A key design feature is a viewing area between the laboratories and office space, encouraging interaction and visits.

The Catapult has a clear mission to establish the cell therapy industry in the UK, according to Board Chairman John Brown. 'Regenerative medicine is very important,' he said. 'We have an exceptional academic base and the regulators are rigorous but supportive in bringing these therapies to patients.' The UK is already a global leader in this area and now needs to be seen to lead the way by translating this expertise into products, he added.

UK Trade & Investment has valued the global regenerative medicine industry at just over £500m, and estimates that it will be generating revenues in excess of £5bn by 2021. The Cell Therapy Catapult is part of the Government’s long-term plan to deliver high-skilled jobs and growth.

'Our network of catapult centres brings together the very best of the UK's businesses, scientists and engineers, to work side by side on research and development, transforming ideas into products and services that people will want to buy and sell,' said Dr Cable.

'The Cell Therapy Catapult will help develop potentially lifesaving new drugs, taking them through clinical trial and reducing the risk involved, both nationally and globally. The Catapult is already making notable inroads into our understanding of how to treat diseases such as leukaemia and these new facilities will allow us to go further, faster in this type of research.'

Following successful technology transfer from the Cell Therapy Catapult's interim facilities, work on several in-house and collaborative projects is ongoing in the laboratories. Since inception in 2012, the Cell Therapy Catapult has grown to more than 70 staff across its Business, Clinical & Regulatory and Manufacturing & Supply Chain teams.

'Our role is to help firms cross the “valley of death”,' said Cell Therapy Catapult CEO Keith Thompson, 'but not just by building a “bridge of sighs”.' By working with the cell therapy community to tackle translational issues, and creating teams to overcome obstacles involved in manufacturing, scale-up, testing and funding, it is helping innovative new products become de-risked and investable, he stated.

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