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13.05.19

‘Thriving’ UK medicines discovery sector being driven by brand new technologies

New state-of-the-art technologies are keeping the UK competitive in a “thriving” service and supply sector in medicines discovery, a 2019 State of the Discovery Nation report has revealed.

The research from the Medicines Discovery Catapult (MDC) and the BioIndustry Association (BIA) found 300 companies focused on discovering potential new medicine, 70% of which are working in areas of cancer, anti-infectives and central nervous systems.

The report highlights two new breakthrough technologies set to influence the future of medicines discovery, with both Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Complex Cell Models (CCMs) offering large potential.

It said the UK now has the opportunity to apply new cutting-edge science and technology to make medicines discovery more productive and maintain the UK’s global competitiveness.

The report also found that service and supply companies account for 80% of SMEs in the UK medicines discovery sector, and despite their size they are a “critical source of innovation for new medicines.”

Chris Molloy, chief executive officer of Medicines Discovery Catapult, said the UK “should be proud” of the vibrancy of its thriving medicines discovery ‘community.’

He commented: “The UK cannot conduct medicines discovery without access to this diverse range of skills, technologies and expertise.

“It is vital that we maintain our global competitiveness and R&D services can be a major sector driving international trade. The report’s findings help shape our strategy at MDC and we will continue to strengthen R&D productivity to create new medicines for patients.”

Alongside the 2019 State of the Discovery Nation, the BIA’s benchmarking report showed that by 2025 the UK could support an extra 33,000 biotech jobs and 50 biotech companies at early clinical stage.

BIA’s chief executive officer, Steve Bates, said the report “shines a light” on an often overlooked group of companies who are vital to the sector and ecosystem.

“As such, the economic benefit in jobs and growth in UK life science, especially outside the South East of England, is often delivered via sub-contracting and the provision of services. It’s vitally important policy makers understand this network and supply chain as we work together to deliver the UK life science industrial strategy.”

The MDC report said companies are calling for government support, funding and tax incentives, with 90% saying they need AI, and 75% of AI funding is currently spent on data access and curation.

CCMs also show “much promise,” and whilst there is a need for validation before large-scale use, they could reduce animal usage drastically.

Image credit - skynesher

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