UK Uni to train frontline healthcare staff in CGT production

The center for Advanced Therapies Manufacturing Training at the University of Birmingham has introduced training courses aimed at bolstering the industry’s capabilities for advanced cell and gene therapy production.  

The course programs are specifically aimed at frontline healthcare practitioners and consist of virtual reality (VR) training components to upskill staff to produce and administer advanced therapy medicinal products (ATMP’s) to patients.

“The aim of the courses is to provide an introduction to CGTs and ATMPs with an emphasis on the continuum from manufacturing to clinical delivery,” Professor Ivan Wall, Center for Advanced Therapies Manufacturing Training, University of Birmingham told us.

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He continued: “CGTs and ATMPs are progressing towards routine healthcare delivery. However, frontline healthcare staff and those involved in patient delivery still lack access to training that will support them in working with ATMPs and administering them to patients as they become mainstream treatments. These healthcare staff include nurses, doctors, pharmacists, and healthcare practitioners working for healthcare providers, for example the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK.”

The VR component of the course has been designed by FourPlus, an immersive technology company. According to the center, VR allows its participants to experience a real-life simulation in GMP competence without compromising physical healthcare facilities. Because of this, if any mistake is made then the training can simply be reset and restarted by the individual taking part.

Furthermore, the virtual element of the production activities means the individual is able to take each step immediately one after the other and essentially complete a week’s manufacturing operation in a single day.

The center  itself is part of the Advanced Therapies Skills and Training Network (ATSTN), a program coordinated by the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult (CGT Catapult). And back in March 2022, CGT Catapult told this publication that VR training can help meet industry demand.

The need for standardization

The organization claims  the typical education pathway for frontline healthcare staff in the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) and various other countries do not consist of manufacturing and administration of ATMP training.

“ATMPs are clinically progressing towards routine healthcare delivery, and the supply chain including manufacturing is gearing up for commercialization,” said Wall.

“However, frontline healthcare staff still need to be trained on the manufacturing and administration of these therapies to patients. National and international standardization of training for hospital and healthcare staff to apply this new class of medicines will be vital. This will enable standardized and condensed training for healthcare staff that will ensure the widespread delivery of ATMPs directly to patients.”

The courses range from two to three days and the first program is entitled ‘Introduction to Advanced Therapy Medicinal products,’ which will run between December 5th – 6th, 2022. Wall told this publication that this specific course has 20 places and costs £795 + VAT ($955).

To hear more from Wall and Stuart Curbishley, head of business and project development, advanced therapies at University of Birmingham, check out this episode of the BioProcess Insider Expression Platform (BIEP) where we discuss how training, virtual reality, and uptake in courses are all critical factors that need to be addressed to meet the demand for talent in the advanced therapy space.