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Public-private funding to accelerate biopharmaceutical drug development

26 September 2007

New research funding announced today will help eliminate processing bottlenecks that are slowing the development and manufacture of new biopharmaceuticals. The Bioprocessing Research Industry Club (BRIC), a public-private collaboration between two Research Councils and the UK biopharmaceutical community, has awarded £3.5 million to researchers at seven universities. The funding will bring new treatments a step closer by helping to develop faster and more efficient development and manufacturing techniques.

Biopharmaceuticals account for 30 per cent of drugs currently in development, and 10 per cent of the current market. Examples of current biopharmaceutical treatments include the use of therapeutic proteins to manage conditions associated with hormone deficiencies or cancers of breast, colon, prostate or pancreatic tissues. In the future, biopharmaceutical treatments may also be able to help with organ and tissue deficiencies or disease conditions associated with ageing. The projects funded by BRIC aim to improve the bioprocessing techniques and systems that underpin biopharmaceutical development and production.

This is the second round of funding awarded by BRIC – a funding collaboration between the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the UK biopharmaceutical industry, with support from bioProcessUK. It has awarded funding to eight research teams at seven universities: the Universities of Birmingham, Imperial College London, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham, Sheffield and Strathclyde.  

These projects build on the first round of BRIC funding which supported nine projects at ten universities with funds in excess of £5 million. The third and final call for BRIC will be announced in the next few weeks.

By combining funding from major public funders and industry, BRIC works to support the rapidly growing biological medicines industry in the UK, with the ultimate aim of accelerating therapy development for patients.  

Dr John Birch, Chairman of the BRIC steering group and Chief Scientific Officer at Lonza Biologics, said: ‘‘Biological drug development offers tremendous promise for patients. The eight new projects funded by BRIC will make a significant contribution to the research underpinning bioprocessing and will help to provide both faster process development and more efficient manufacturing technology for new biopharmaceuticals”
Dr Doug Yarrow, BBSRC Director of Corporate Science said: ‘The UK has an outstanding research base in bioprocessing and the latest round of BRIC grants further promotes the UK’s world-leading status. It is essential that research capabilities are translated into real benefits for patients. BRIC’s funding enables this by strengthening the vital links between groundbreaking research in our universities and industry’s needs.’

ENDS

About BRIC

The Bioprocessing Research Industry Club (BRIC) was established in 2005 by BBSRC and EPSRC to focus on the delivery of investment into academic research in bioprocessing. Alongside BBSRC and EPSRC in BRIC are 17 industrial organisations: Antisoma, Avecia Biologics, Cambridge Antibody Technology, Centre of Excellence for Life Sciences, Cobra Biomanufacturing, Eden Biodesign, GlaxoSmithKline, GlycoForm Ltd, HPA, Ipsen Limited, Lonza Biologics, Millipore, NIBSC, Novozymes Delta Ltd, Pall Life Sciences, SNBTS and UCB. These organisations contribute to a joint research council-industry fund in excess of £14 million to support research projects. BRIC is managed by BBSRC, EPSRC and bioProcessUK.

About BBSRC

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) is the UK funding agency for research in the life sciences. Sponsored by Government, BBSRC annually invests around £380 million in a wide range of research that makes a significant contribution to the quality of life for UK citizens and supports a number of important industrial stakeholders including the agriculture, food, chemical, healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors. http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk

About EPSRC

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is the UK's main agency for funding research in engineering and the physical sciences. EPSRC invests around £740 million a year in research and postgraduate training, to help the nation handle the next generation of technological change. The areas covered range from information technology to structural engineering, and mathematics to materials science. This research forms the basis for future economic development in the UK and improvements for everyone’s health, lifestyle and culture. http://www.epsrc.ac.uk

About bioProcessUK

bioProcessUK is the Technology Strategy Board-funded Knowledge Transfer Network dedicated to supporting the growth of the biopharmaceutical development and processing sector in the UK. bioProcessUK is managed as a stand-alone business unit of the BioIndustry Association (BIA). bioProcessUK plays an important role in ensuring BRIC meets industry’s research and skill needs. http://www.bioprocessuk.org

External contact

Robert Winder, BioIndustry Association (BIA) / bioProcessUK Press Office

tel: 020 7565 7193

Contact

Matt Goode, Head of External Relations

tel: 01793 413299
fax: 01793 413382

Tracey Jewitt, Media Officer

tel: 01793 414694
fax: 01793 413382