A recently formed Manchester health consortium, led by The Christie, has been awarded nearly £7 million of funding to ensure more patients benefit from a new generation of disease-fighting drugs for cancer and non-cancer illnesses.

Manchester is one of only three centres in Britain awarded funding by Innovate UK, from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, to coordinate a strategy to scale-up advanced therapies for a range of debilitating conditions. The centre, hosted at The Christie, will design and run larger clinical trials in this innovative area of personalised medicine.

As well as The Christie, the partnership consists of The University of Manchester (including input from Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute and Manchester Cancer Research Centre), Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust (including Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital and Manchester Royal Infirmary) and nine life science focused businesses.

Advanced therapies use patients’ own cells as a ‘drug’ to treat disease. Cells are taken from a patient, specially treated to create therapeutic properties and re-introduced to the patient’s body. This might include those cells attacking a tumour, but also cells correcting a genetic or degenerative disease.

Currently, clinical trials for these advanced therapies are small-scale due to their highly complex, expensive and challenging nature. During the three-year project, the twelve consortium partners will make the processes and infrastructure for running these clinical trials as efficient and streamlined as possible, enabling larger clinical trials to be available to more patients.

During the initiative, the consortium aims to recruit 260 patients to clinical trials in advanced therapies. By 2021, the project end date, consortium partners should be able to treat five times more patients with this type of personalised medicine each year in Manchester, with patient waiting times for treatment slots reduced by 50%.

Roger Spencer, Chief Executive of The Christie, said “The Christie has a strong track record of innovating in cancer treatment; proton beam therapy, due to be rolled out later this year, is one such example. Consequently, we are delighted to be leading this project which will solve the complex requirements for the scale-up of advanced therapies through novel solutions. This successful Manchester bid, which covers a breadth of clinical areas, is testimony to the collaborative approach of our commercial, academic and clinical partners.

“Manchester has several advantages as a designated advanced therapies treatment centre; existing clinical excellence in the field, active trials for both adults and children, a large population to draw on for trial participants, a thriving biotechnology sector and existing frameworks to ensure improvements are adopted into our healthcare system. These benefits, and existing strong partner relationships within the consortium, will enable us to meet government requirements; helping the UK remain competitive in the development of advanced therapies.”


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