11 December 2017Big Pharma

UK government announces life sciences deal; GSK and AstraZeneca invest

The UK government has announced a deal between the life sciences sector and the government, aimed at ensuring that the “next wave of breakthrough treatments” and innovative medical research and technologies are created in the country.

On November 27, the UK government revealed its industrial strategy, which outlined a long-term plan to boost the economy.

Fast-forward one week and the government released its life sciences sector deal, setting out an agreed strategic vision between the government and 25 global organisations, “built on co-investment”.

The government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) will invest £725 million ($970 million) in new programmes to “respond to some of the greatest global challenges and the opportunities faced by the UK”.

It announced that the fund will launch an artificial intelligence programme aimed at developing digital pathology and radiology programmes in partnership with industry and embedded in the NHS.

LSIPR previously reported that MSD, known as Merck and Co in the US and Canada, had outlined its plan to launch a life sciences discovery research facility in London.

The facility is focused on early bioscience discovery and entrepreneurial innovation, and is expected to create 150 new research roles.

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) welcomed the launch of the sector deal while announcing that it would invest £40 million ($53.5 million) into initiatives that harness advances in genetic research in the development of new medicines.

The investment expands GSK’s efforts to generate genetic sequencing data from UK Biobank, a health resource, and will support the sequencing of data from all 500,000 volunteer participants, beyond the first 50,000 subset announced by the company earlier in 2017.

It will strengthen ‘Open Targets’, GSK’s collaboration with the European Bioinformatics Institute, the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Biogen and Takeda.

‘Open Targets’ makes genetic and biological data openly available to help researchers identify and prioritise new targets for developing future medicines.

Phil Thomson, president of global affairs at GSK, said: “The UK has a world-class life sciences sector, but that will only continue to thrive through a strong partnership of government, industry and academia.”

AstraZeneca has invested £500 million in its new research and development centre and global headquarters in Cambridge, UK.

The deal will complement the work of AstraZeneca’s existing partnerships with Genomics England and others to analyse two million genomes by 2026.

Greg Clark, UK business secretary, added: “The UK is extraordinarily well-placed to play a leading role in this revolution in the life sciences. Our universities and research institutes rank among the best in the world. They nurture and attract some of the most inventive people on earth.”

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