AI diagnosis and national study included in new early disease detection £1.3bn deal

A £1.3bn investment from the government and the industry has been announced in a bid to drive early disease technology as part of the new Life Sciences Sector Deal.

The second ever Life Sciences Sector Deal, announced by Matt Hancock and business secretary Greg Clark, will develop new detection technologies and a brand-new national health programme, seeking industry investment from 10 companies—with biopharmaceutical company UCB investing around £1bn in research and a new state-of-the-art facility.

New early disease detection technology will be developed using AI, which will aim to create “the industries and treatments of the future,” including the first-of-its-kind national health programme.

The Accelerating Detection of Disease programme will study five million healthy people to develop new diagnostic tests using AI and is the largest ever study of its kind, bringing together the NHS, industry and charities including Cancer Research UK and British Heart Foundation.

Backed by £79m of government funding, the programme will be led by professor Sir John Bell and will help deliver the Early Diagnosis Mission.

Bell said: “This Sector Deal is another major step forward for the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy in the UK. It has been hugely enabled by government and will initiate new projects that will be a magnet for further investment.

“Together, industry, charities, government and the NHS can tackle some of the major challenges to healthcare systems, including ageing and early diagnostics and, in doing so, can grow the economy and demonstrate what a modern Industrial Strategy looks like in action.”

The government called the deal a “vote of confidence in the UK industry”, saying that funding will support healthcare innovation and back businesses to create high-paid, high-quality jobs as part of its Industrial Strategy.

Hancock commented: “I want the UK to have the most advanced health and care system on the planet. Technology and artificial intelligence have the potential to revolutionise healthcare by unlocking the next generation of treatments, diagnosing diseases before symptoms appear and helping patients take greater control of their own health.”

Building on the first Life Sciences Sector Deal from 2017, other announcements in the new deal include over £80m investment from five growing cell and gene therapy companies, and new measures to further strengthen clinical research in the UK.

Jean-Christophe Tellier the chief executive officer at UCB, which has announced a £200m research and development centre to be built in the UK, commented: “At UCB, we are proud of our heritage in the UK and I am very pleased to announce our planned investment to support the construction of a major R&D hub in the UK.”

Image credit - xubingruo


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