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Growing a £10 billion cell and gene therapy industry for the UK

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Three years since we launched

It’s been three years since the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult launched and I’m proud to say in that time we’ve gone from an idea to being one of the most prominent cell and gene therapy organisations in the world.

cell gene therapy catapult logo

Creating the right environment for success

My mission is to keep that momentum going and ultimately make the UK the global HQ for the manufacture and commercialisation of advanced therapies. The opportunity for us is certainly there with our academic base punching above its weight, a vibrant biotech sector and the NHS as a place to trial and use these advanced therapies. We just have to create the right environment and infrastructure to ensure that we help firms succeed and stay in the UK as well as attracting global firms to the UK to develop therapies.

Everything comes back to the patient

Cell and gene therapies are constantly in the news as potential cures for all manner of ills, so it’s not just about seizing the economic opportunities for the UK – it’s ultimately about the patient. Our mission is ‘delivering health and wealth’ and to me those are equally as important and the potential for patients is really exciting.

We are not working on ‘me too’ medicines, we are working on a revolution in healthcare where cell and gene therapies can offer long term cures or years of quality life to patients. For some of these patients there are few or no options right now.

Revolutions are never easy

However, a revolution is never going to be simple and easy. The environment in which we operate is complex and continuously evolving along with the therapies and the science. As we at the Catapult tackle barriers to the development of the industry we continuously review the effect we are having. And I believe that what we are doing is working as we keep overcoming both technical and market obstacles to accelerate the development of products and technologies. As these barriers are overcome more investment gets attracted in, a virtuous circle!

cell gene therapy catapult cell image

Some of our live projects

There’s nothing better than working on live projects with our partners in academia and industry. In a clinical trial here in the UK we have taken patients own immune cells, souped them up and returned them programmed to attack cancer cells. This was done with our collaborators at UCL, though a company we formed with UCLB and Imperial innovations. This is one of 3 companies the Catapult has been involved in creating. We do this so that promising technology is ready to be spun out and attract investment.

We’ve collaborated with ReNeuron, a UK based company to help develop their manufacturing  process to enable stem cells to be used in a treatment to help patients who have a had a stroke. Following this collaboration, the company successfully completed 2 rounds of financing, raising over £100m in total.

A few weeks ago, another one of our collaborators, Asymptote, licensed the device we developed with them to Cook Regentec for commercialisation. We spotted a need in the market for this device, a system that thaws cell therapies, and then helped Asymptote conceptualise and design the final product.

Our cell and gene therapy centre

We are also building our state of the art large scale manufacturing facility for cell and gene therapies in Stevenage. The centre will be ready for occupation in the summer of next year and will be one of the first of its kind. It will give cell and gene therapy companies somewhere to manufacture their products under the right conditions at a large scale so that the final clinical trials can be done. And it’s been designed to ensure those products can get to the patients that need them in time and safely. It’s my experience that these complex therapies, when they become licensed, tend to stay in the area that they originated using the skills of the people and the complex supply chains that grow around them. The very essence of ‘stickiness’.

Each of these achievements marks a step forward for the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult but there’s still a long way to go and a lot to keep me busy for the next three years and beyond. I’m confident we can get there and build that £10 billion industry for the UK.

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