The National Health Service has opened a £10 ($12.5) million cell and gene therapy manufacturing plant in Bristol that will increase UK capacity for plasmids and vectors.
The Government-funded Clinical Biotechnology Centre (CBC) is designed to expand the UK’s ability to make the clinical grade products required for the research and development of new cell and gene therapies.
The center will manufacture both plasmids and viral vectors. It will support early phase clinical trials and pre-clinical work. In time, the idea is that the center provides developers with a route to eventual commercial scale production.
Development will focus on curative therapies for diseases like cancer, sickle cell disease, and cystic fibrosis.
Dr Lilian Hook, NHSBT’s Director of Cell, Apheresis and Gene Therapies said “The CBC is basically a factory – it manufactures the building blocks needed to produce gene therapies. Researchers and developers can ask us to manufacture the specific components they require.”
“This will enable cutting edge research with the potential to develop cures for some critical diseases which can currently only be treated and often ultimately prove fatal. We’ll be supporting delivery of these curative treatments into the NHS, so patients can access them more quickly.”
Hook added “The CBC will help the UK grow its cell and gene therapy industry in a rapidly growing international market. We won’t be designing the treatments, but we will be manufacturing them to the right scale and clinical grade. Cell and gene therapy is growing area for the healthcare sector and of part of our direction of travel as an organization.”
The CBC is located at NHS Blood and Transplant’s base in Filton, in North Bristol, and replaces a smaller, ageing unit in nearby Langford.
The NHS predicted the additional manufacturing capacity available at the center will help reduce developers’ reliance on overseas suppliers.
“Researchers often need to seek the services of overseas manufacturers, which inevitably delays clinical trials and patients’ access to much needed innovative therapies, and often increases costs. The new CBC will change that by expanding the UK’s ability to make its own plasmids and viral vectors.”