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Government invest in personalised medicines

The Technology Strategy Board and the Medical Research Council (MRC) are to jointly invest over £3.7 million in seven major new research projects that will help to place the UK at the forefront of developments into personalised medicine.

The investment is the first to be made through the Technology Strategy Board-managed Stratified Medicine Innovation Platform (SMIP), an initiative which will oversee an investment of over £50m of government funding over five years in innovative research and development in areas such as tumour profiling to improve cancer care and developing biomarkers for more effective drugs.

The Technology Strategy Board are also pleased to welcome Arthritis Research UK as full partners in the SMIP, joining the Department of Health (England), the Scottish Government Health Directorates, the Medical Research Council (MRC), the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) and Cancer Research UK. Arthritis Research UK’s involvement will help advance the programme, particularly in the area of inflammatory disease.

The seven projects will be lead by AstraZeneca UK Ltd, GlaxoSmithKline (three projects), Ig Innovations Ltd, Janssen UK and Randox Laboratories Ltd. Including contributions from the project partners, the total value of the research and development will be over £7m.

The Technology Strategy Board’s Chief Executive, Iain Gray, said: “Here in the UK we have many of the strengths needed to accelerate the innovation of stratified – or personalised – medicines and to become a world leader in developing medicines aimed at smaller sub-groups of patients. These investments are the first in a programme that is bringing scientific research, businesses and policymakers together to develop the personalised, targeted drugs and treatments of the future.”

John Jeans, Chief Operating Officer and Deputy Chief Executive of the Medical Research Council (MRC), said: “The MRC has chosen to be a major investor in this partnership, as it provides an opportunity to enhance the competitiveness of the UK knowledge and health base in an important and innovative area.  We welcome the opportunity to continue collaborating with the Technology Strategy Board and other partners in supporting the development of targeted treatments for patients. As well as benefiting the health services both at home and abroad, the SMIP initiative could help to deliver the economic advantages associated with world-leading research.”

Four of the projects are in the area of inflammatory biomarkers for more effective drugs. The projects will develop the use of biomarkers to predict how groups of patients will respond to inflammation and immunology therapies. In this way, therapies could be given only to relevant patient sub-groups for better results in alleviating symptoms and side effects.

The other three projects relate to developing business models and value systems. The projects will try to determine the best ways to co-develop drugs and companion diagnostics, and the ways in which subsequent reimbursement can be distributed across the value chain. This should increase the number of stratified treatments that are developed, the speed of their development and their adoption by healthcare providers.

Applications closed on 28 April 2011 for a third stratified medicine competition, relating to tumour profiling and data capture to improve cancer care, and the results are likely to be known in early June.

Technology Strategy Board

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