NHS investment critical to drive cell and gene therapy research

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The UK Government has recently invested heavily in the UK’s cell and gene therapy development and manufacturers, but there is still a way to go for the NHS to be more actively involved in cell and gene therapy trials. Image credit: Shutterstock / SJMPhotos.

In May 2023, former health minister Lord James O’Shaughnessy acknowledged in a report that there were many issues with the UK’s clinical trial industry. The report showed that the country fell from fourth to tenth globally for trial initiation, with a big drop in the number of Phase III trials initiated.

At the same time, the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) has been under extreme pressure with staffing woes, including the recent junior doctor strikes and financial difficulties impeding clinicians’ ability to participate in research, especially in more demanding cell and gene therapy trials.

With a snap general election now looming on 4 July and the NHS being one of the top concerns for voters, it is more important than ever for political parties to set out their manifesto including how they are going to facilitate research and support the NHS.

The UK Conservative government has tried to improve the country’s ability to develop cell and gene therapies, with a $10m grant in March 2023 for the NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) to open a facility to develop and manufacture new gene and cell therapies called the Clinical Biotechnology Centre (CBC).

Funds have also been provided to several companies through the Life Sciences Innovative Manufacturing Fund (LSIMF) grants, including £151m for Pharmaron and £14m for Touchlight for cell and gene therapy development and manufacturing.

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On top of all this, the UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) has announced a £17.9m investment in the Advanced Therapy Treatment Centre Network (ATTC Network).

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