Archives for category: Communications

Only one week to go until this year’s BIA Gala Dinner, where we’ll be raising funds for our Charity of the Year, Alzheimer’s Research UK!

The below infographic outlines one of our biggest global healthcare challenges, dementia, and how UK bioscience is working to tackle it.

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Watch our video to find out more about dementia here.

For more information on our ‘Celebrating UK Biocience’ project, visit the website.

There is great depth and breadth in UK biotechnology: from a strong and emerging regenerative medicine and cell therapy sector, to specialist biomanufacturing companies developing therapies for cancer treatment, to personalised treatments and new antimicrobials. Advances in technologies such as synthetic biology are impacting upon the development of new types of therapeutics and new production methods. UK bioscience is not only changing lives, but saving them.

It is vital that the sector continues to get the support it needs to keep this essential research and development going, now and in the future. The infographic below shows how complex the drug discovery process is and the various steps that BIA member companies go through to get drugs to patients.

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Read more about the importance of our sector in the report ‘Celebrating UK Bioscience’ or watch our series of videos here.

A light-hearted Christmas video treat to end the year, as we showcase the Dance Your PhD live performance by Dr Jyaysi Desai from EuropaBio’s 20th Anniversary Gala Dinner.

Do you have a video you would like the sector to see? Contact us.

As we head towards Christmas, we take a look at BIA’s year in numbers…

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Today we announced that we will be partnering with Alzheimer’s Research UK as our charity of the year in 2017. The BIA has worked with the charity this year on its Celebrating UK Bioscience campaign that looked at how the Dementia Discovery Fund, launched in 2015 by Alzheimer’s Research UK, the Department of Health and global pharmaceutical companies, supported BIA member Gen2 Neuroscience in its work to tackle dementia. Find out more below.

Dementia is a global health challenge, expected to affect more than 132 million people worldwide by 2050, and the UK is leading the way in tackling the challenge.dementia-time

The Dementia Discovery Fund (DDF) was created by the UK Department of Health, Alzheimer’s Research UK, alongside major global pharmaceutical companies Biogen, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Lilly, Pfizer and Takeda who have invested $100 million into a fund to support the discovery and development of novel dementia treatments.

The fund is managed by SV Life Sciences, who are working to identify and support the development of novel therapeutic approaches. A world-class Scientific Advisory Board, with representatives from the DDF’s strategic investors and world-leading international academics has been set up to share expertise, expand the DDF’s collaborative networks and advise the investment team.

Current treatments for dementia only help to ease the symptoms of the condition for a limited time but do not address the underlying cause. The aim of the fund is to boost innovation in research and development to deliver new drug approaches for dementia by 2025 to diagnose and intervene early to modify the course of disease while improving symptoms, which will lay the foundations for effective therapies.

The DDF is working collaboratively with universities, academic institutes and the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry internationally to identify novel dementia research projects and nurture these through the pre-clinical phase, enabling further development in clinical trials.

Cambridge based Gen2 is the first UK investment by DDF: Gen2 is a seed company engaged in the discovery and development of novel treatments for dementia targeting abnormal forms of the essential extra cellular protein tau.

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Watch the BIA video which features Dr Matt Norton, Director of Policy and Strategy, Alzheimer’s Research UK, Kate Bingham, Managing Partner SV Life Sciences (Dementia Discovery Fund), Dr Rick Livesey, CEO Gen2 Neuroscience and Joy Watson, dementia patient and Alzheimer’s Research UK supporter.

The UK BioIndustry Association ‘Celebrating UK Bioscience’ campaign highlights the impact that the UK bioscience industry makes on delivering ground-breaking treatments to patients. Here we take a look at type one diabetes, an autoimmune condition, where the body’s own immune system attacks cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. Cambridge based BIA member Arecor, partnered with BIA charity of the year JDRF, is working to develop a concentrated form of insulin – a critical step towards the advancement of the miniaturisation of delivery devices.

Type one diabetes is a chronic, life threatening condition that has a life-long impact on those diagnosed and their families. In type one diabetes, the body’s own immune system attacks cells in the pancreas that produces insulin. It is not caused by anything a child or parents did or didn’t do and cannot be prevented; it is not linked to being overweight, lack of exercise or other lifestyle factors.

The condition often strikes in childhood and stays with people for the rest of their lives. Type one diabetes affects 400,000 people in the UK, including over 29,000 children. Long-term complications of type one diabetes include heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney failure and limb amputation. On average the life expectancy of a person with the condition is shortened by 10–15 years.

Many people with type one diabetes rely on insulin injections and up to 10–12 finger prick tests every day just to stay alive, but people are increasingly using insulin pumps rather than injections to deliver insulin and flash or glucose monitors to keep track of glucose levels. Next generation device technology such as wearable, continuous administration patch pumps and implants are critical developments for people living with diabetes. They help improve control over the levels of glucose in the blood and they could help reduce adverse states such as hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) and diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), as well as overall complications and mortality.

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Cambridge based Arecor are working on concentrating insulin 5- to 10-fold so that the pump technology that delivers insulin can be made smaller. The smaller the pump, the more concentrated the dose of insulin needs to be.

Concentrating insulin is a challenging process as aggregation can take place when the proteins and peptides within the insulin start to stick to each other during the concentration process. This changes the makeup of the insulin and can mean that it no longer works when it is used.aggregation-picType one diabetes charity JDRF will provide Arecor with up to $900,000 in milestone funding over 12 months to complete product development of a stable concentrated insulin.

Watch our video and hear more about the research from Arecor, JDRF and Simon Vinnicombe, whose son George lives with the condition.

You can also download our accompanying infographic here.

The UK BioIndustry Association ‘Celebrating UK Bioscience’ campaign highlights the impact that the UK bioscience industry makes on delivering ground-breaking treatments to patients. Here we take a look at Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), a fatal muscle-wasting condition. BIA member Summit Therapeutics, a biotechnology company based in Oxfordshire is developing a potential treatment approach, known as utrophin modulation, to slow or stop disease progression.

Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is a fatal muscle-wasting condition, caused by the lack of a protein called dystrophin.

Dystrophin acts as a molecular shock-absorber for muscle fibres. Without it, muscle fibres break down and are replaced by fibrous and/or fatty tissue causing the muscle to weaken gradually. Not only does the condition impact on muscles used for movement, but also on the heart and respiratory muscles. There is currently no cure for the disease, which affects around 2,500 people in the UK. The average life expectancy is around 30 years old.

 

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DMD is a genetic condition that can be caused by a range of mutations in the dystrophin gene, located on the X chromosome. Females have two copies of the X chromosome, while males have an X and a Y. This means the condition primarily affects males, but women can be carriers of the disease with one affected X chromosome. Usually female carriers do not show signs of the disease because they have a second X chromosome that can compensate by producing the dystrophin protein that the body needs.

Up to one third of new cases of DMD arise in patients with no familial history due to spontaneous mutations in their dystrophin gene.

Summit Therapeutics, a biotechnology company based in Oxfordshire is developing a potential treatment approach, known as utrophin modulation, to slow or stop disease progression.

Utrophin is a naturally occurring protein that is functionally and structurally similar to dystrophin. Utrophin is produced during the early stages of muscle fibre development but is switched off in maturing muscle fibres, at which point dystrophin is produced to perform the same functional role.

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Summit Therapeutics aim to modulate, or change, how utrophin is produced in boys and men with DMD. The approach aims to use small molecule drugs to maintain the production of utrophin to compensate for the absence of dystrophin in order to maintain and protect healthy muscle function.

Watch our video and hear more about the research from Summit Therapeutics, Muscular Dystrophy UK and Charmaine Twine, whose two sons Josh and Ethan have DMD.

You can also download our accompanying infographic here.

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To paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld – with Hillary Clinton’s defeat, her policy known unknowns can be discounted. With Donald Trump heading to the White House, we now face unknown unknowns.

Trump has defied expectations to be elected the 45th President of the United States of America. The result has caught markets off-guard, with indexes looking like a rollercoaster across the globe. However, with the threat of Clinton’s drug price regulation off the cards, there appears to be a silver lining for biotech stocks. Here we look at the potential impact of the US election on biotech in the UK and globally.

Biotech stocks rally on Trump win

Ahead of the election, a report by US analyst firm Leerink Partners said that $50 billion had been wiped from biotech stocks as markets predicted a Clinton win and a Democrat-controlled Congress. It concluded that biotech stocks could bounce back by 20% if Trump and the Republicans were successful.

As the UK market opened this morning, pharmaceutical shares rose in the FTSE 100 (which overall went down), with Shire, Hikma, GlaxoSmithkline and AstraZeneca all up between 2% and nearly 5%.

In the US, the iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology exchange-traded fund, which tracks biotech stocks like Gilead Sciences, Celgene and Biogen, rose 9% when the market opened. Pharma stocks also rallied – Pfizer up 10%, Merck 5% and Abbvie 7%.

Investors are clearly relieved. The Republicans have held onto both the Senate and the House of Representatives. As the Party has fiercely fought-off drug price controls in the past, this makes it very unlikely drug prices will see strong regulation. However, commentators are still divided on what the election result means for the industry. Trump’s health plans have centered on ripping up Obamacare “on day one”, whereas Clinton was set to expand the program. Adam Feuerstein, a columnist at TheStreet, says the worry could shift to reduced prescription drug volumes and lower sales if Obamacare is repealed.

Trump has also promised to remove the ban on importing medicines and to speed up the approval of generics, which will make the market more difficult for new medicines. This has been reported as a boon for generic manufacturers and could result in a more European-style healthcare market.

Wider Trump policy and its effect on the life sciences

While he has offered few details on policies for life sciences research, Trump said last year that he has heard “terrible” things about the US National Institutes of Health. In the run-up to the election and now after, US scientists in academia and industry have expressed concern that a Trump Presidency could result in less Government funding for biomedical research – potentially as a result of lowered taxes – and questions have been raised about his approach to evidence. He has repeatedly pushed the myth that vaccines cause autism. “I feel sick to my stomach,” a research director of a small biotech focused on autism therapies told BuzzFeed News about the prospect of a Trump administration.

Ben Carson, a heart-surgeon who dropped out of the Republican primary race and joined Trump’s campaign, has taken a more sensible approach to vaccines, and after being thanked in Trump’s victory speech could be a close adviser on health policy to the new President.

In his speech, Trump took a conciliatory tone. He promised to be a President for everyone. He said he would invest in infrastructure, double US economic growth and to put America first but “deal fairly with everyone, all nations and all people”. However, everyone agrees that his election signals a significant change to US foreign and domestic policy.

Trump supported Brexit and is said not to be a fan of the EU. He even had Nigel Farage campaigning alongside him. Some commentators have said this could mean a stronger “special relationship”. Trump is also against the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the US and EU, which would exclude the UK if it went ahead after Brexit.

Trumps notorious stance on immigration — including a pledge to bar Muslims from entering the United States — will raise concerns that talented foreign scientists will be put off from working or studying at US institutions. And it is unlikely that Trump will appoint Supreme Court judges more positively minded towards intellectual property and research in life sciences, this may prove to be a competitive advantage for the UK sector.

Proposition 61 defeated

American drug companies have also avoided price regulation in California, where Proposition 61 was defeated in a vote that happened alongside the election. The legislation aimed to cap how much the state can spend on the prescription drugs it buys through programs like Medicaid or insurance plans for state employees. If it passed, it would have been a huge change to how drug pricing operates in the US that could trigger the introduction of similar legislation across the country.

Keep calm and biotech on

As we have demonstrated since the EU Referendum result earlier this year, the strong fundamentals of our sector in the UK remain unchanged. The American election was never going to change that. Just this week Syncona revealed their part in a new £1 billion listed fund that will be a real boost for UK life sciences in the coming years, and today saw the official opening of the Francis Crick Institute in London. These are all positive developments for the UK ecosystem that will maintain and strengthen our position as the third global life sciences cluster.

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Today the BIA launched the next phase of its Celebrating UK Bioscience campaign. The aim of this campaign is to showcase the great work taking place in the sector – focusing on the potential human benefits of treatments that are currently in research and development – and to bring a greater understanding of the UK biotechnology sector to new audiences.

Biotechnology is technology based on biology, the science of life. Scientists in our sector work with living organisms to drive the development and manufacture of drug treatments, advanced therapies and diagnostic tests to support patients in the UK and beyond. The BIA is the trade association for innovative healthcare companies rooted in the UK’s bioscience base. The sector continues to evolve, investing in research and development activities, and translating research from the UK’s world leading science base into medicines to treat patients.

There is great depth and breadth in UK biotechnology: from a strong and emerging regenerative medicine and cell therapy sector, to specialist biomanufacturing companies developing therapies for cancer treatment, to personalised treatments and new antimicrobials. Advances in technologies such as synthetic biology are impacting upon the development of new types of therapeutics and new production methods. UK bioscience is not only changing lives, but saving them. It is vital that the sector continues to get the support it needs to keep this essential research and development going, now and in the future.

This campaign takes a look behind the scenes in the labs of some of our members to see what they are researching and developing and what the possible patient benefits these drugs and treatments could have in the future. The report is divided into five treatment areas: cancer, antimicrobial resistance, type one diabetes, dementia and Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Most people will be familiar with cancer and dementia, but this project wanted to look at less understood areas such as type one diabetes and antimicrobial resistance, as well as a rare disease, Duchenne muscular dystrophy, to demonstrate the breadth of scientific research and development taking place in our sector.

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A number of charities that took part in this project are directly funding research in BIA member companies. Collaborations between industry and medical research charities are increasingly recognised as a mutually beneficial relationship. This brings the patient perspective to companies and enables patients to access clinical trials or to stay informed about R&D, and even allows vital funds to be channelled into clinical research.

Alongside the report, there is a series of infographics and videos, which add further insight into each condition and what BIA members are doing to tackle them. You will hear first-hand from patients and their families who have shared their personal stories and what they hope UK biotech will be able to achieve. Go to www.bioindustry.org/newsandresources/celebrate to view and download all the resources.

 

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The UK bioscience sector enters the autumn season in rude heath with developments across the sector from significant inward investments, new startups, fundraisings and government investment.

Speaking last week at the opening of new BIA member Alnylam Pharmaceutical’s new building, in the Prime Minister’s constituency of Maidenhead, BIA CEO Steve Bates, said: “This opening is confirmation of the fundamental strengths of the UK life science ecosystem. It is fantastic news for the UK that Boston based Alnylam have chosen the UK for their new European HQ. This is just one of a string of recent announcements from across the sector that shows the UK biotech ecosystem is in rude health, and that the initial shock of the EU referendum has past.”

Alnylam was founded in 14 years ago, with the focus of advancing RNAi therapeutics as a new class of innovative medicines. Alnylam’s platform has the potential to be transformatory for patients with genetic diseases, metabolic heart diseases and infectious diseases of the liver.

Steve added: “It’s fantastic to be able to welcome Akshay Vaishnaw, Executive VP of R&D, and Chief Medical Officer of Alnylam today. Akshay trained in Wales and London so knows well the depth of talent and scientific excellence in the UK.”

Alnylam’s opening is just one of a series of recent highlights for the UK biotech sector, which include:

  • The formation of new companies. GammaDelta a new private companyseeded by Venture capitalists Abingworth was created this month to work on the potential of gamma delta (γδ) cells, to create improved immunotherapy of cancer and other serious diseases. The company also received support from Cancer Research Technology, King’s College London and the Francis Crick Institute.
  • The raising of additional capital by established biotech businesses. In September, Manchester based and AIM listed C4X Discovery raised an additional £5million. New investors Calculus Capital Limited (a leading EIS and VCT investor) and Polar Capital LLP participated for the first time.
  • The raising of additional capital by Life science investors. In AugustCambridge Innovation Capital (CIC) raised £75 million in private financing round. CIC provides long term capital to support the sustained growth of investee companies in the rapidly-growing technology and healthcare sectors. The new funds raised will be used to provide additional investment to CIC’s current portfolio, to invest in new opportunities created at the University of Cambridge and within the Cambridge Cluster and to expand the CIC team to allow the Company to capitalise on its strong inflow of new investment opportunities.
  • Further investment in clinical research infrastructure by the UK government. This month we have seen the UK’s largest ever investment into ground-breaking health research, as the UK government announced the research projects supported by a record £816 million investment. Twenty Biomedical Research Centres will host the development of new, ground-breaking treatments, diagnostics, prevention and care for patients in a wide range of diseases like cancer and dementia. Leading NHS clinicians and top universities will benefit from new world class facilities and support services built by the five-year funding package. Mental health research will see funding increase to nearly £70 million, dementia to over £45 million, deafness and hearing problems will receive over £15 million and antimicrobial resistance research rises to around £45 million.

Despite the positive news from the sector in the UK, Steve Bates stressed that the sector cannot rest on its laurels.  He said: “Also this month we have read of GE plans to invest £150million into a bio manufacturing plant in Cork, Ireland. This shows both the opportunities available in this sector and the globally competitive market for investment. It’s vital that life sciences is central to the UK government’s new industrial strategy and that policies in it ensure the UK is truly globally competitive.”