How will UK life sciences vision impact medicine development and research?

The new UK Life Sciences Vision, developed with businesses and experts in the field, outlines seven critical missions that government, industry, the NHS, academia and medical research charities will work together on at speed to solve – from cancer treatment to tackling dementia. These missions will focus on preventing, diagnosing, monitoring and treating disease early, using innovative clinical trials to develop breakthrough products and treatments quickly to help save lives, and accelerating the development and adoption of new drugs, diagnostics, medical technology and digital tools.

The missions include:

  • Accelerating the pace of studies into novel dementia treatment
  • Enabling early diagnosis and treatments, including immune therapies such as cancer vaccines
  • Sustaining the UK’s position in vaccine discovery, development and manufacturing
  • Treatment and prevention of cardiovascular diseases and its major risk factors, including obesity
  • Reducing mortality and morbidity from respiratory disease in the UK and globally
  • Addressing the underlying biology of ageing
  • Increasing the understanding of mental health conditions, including work to redefine diseases and develop tools to address them

The Vision looks to emulate the successes of the UK Vaccines Taskforce – harnessing private sector expertise and managing bureaucracy so that industry leaders can tackle future healthcare challenges at speed and at risk.

The Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) will be able to act as an independent, sovereign regulator with agility and with a focus on getting vaccines, drugs, and technologies to patients as safely and quickly as possible.

Life Sciences Minister Nadhim Zahawi said: “Through this pandemic, we have turned to the brilliance of our UK life sciences sector which time after time has stepped up and done the country proud – from developing life-saving vaccines to identifying variants through world class genome sequencing. We want to bottle up this scientific brilliance, and the Life Sciences Vision provides a roadmap for how we apply this innovation at the heart of our NHS helping to solve major health challenges such as dementia and obesity – all while ensuring the UK remains a global leader in life sciences.”

Central to the Life Sciences Vision is a focus on cultivating a business environment in which UK life sciences firms can access finance to innovate and grow, are regulated in an agile and efficient way, and are incentivised to onshore manufacture and commercialise their products in the UK. To support this ambition, the government has also launched its Life Sciences Investment Programme, a £200 million government investment. The investment will be delivered through British Patient Capital, part of the government-owned British Business Bank, which will allocate the £200 million to specialist funds.

In a further boost to the sector, British Patient Capital has recently agreed a collaboration with Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Investment Company. Under this partnership, facilitated by the Office for Investment, Mubadala has committed to invest £800 million in the UK life sciences industry and will work with British Patient Capital to identify sector trends and investment opportunities.

In total, this means £1 billion of new funding is available for the UK’s most promising life sciences companies, with the potential to crowd in further funding from other investors.

In response, Richard Torbett, Chief Executive of The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), said: “This is an ambitious statement about how the UK can become a life sciences superpower. We’ve seen just how important the partnership between industry, the government and the NHS has been to the response to the pandemic, and we need to take the same approach if we are going to make the UK a global hub for life sciences. By putting the NHS at the centre of the vision, we can also deliver for patients and make the UK the best place in the world to research, develop, manufacture, and use the latest medicines and vaccines.”

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