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Birmingham a world leader in battle to beat deadly diseases

Birmingham a world leader in battle to beat deadly diseases

🕔05.Aug 2015

Greater Birmingham is on course to become a world leader in life and health sciences and a centre for the rapid assessment of new drugs and diagnostics, the Government has forecast.

Minister for life sciences George Freeman welcomed the inaugural report by an independent commission set up to highlight Birmingham’s potential role at the heart of a medical sciences cluster and a leading player in the fight to combat cancers and liver disease.

Mr Freeman said:

The Government is backing the Midlands as an engine for growth and this report sets out an exciting vision of the growing role that the Greater Birmingham cluster is playing in the fast emerging field of life and health sciences.

Building on the ground-breaking work of the Birmingham hospitals and Institute for Translational Medicine in research medicine, and investing in the skills and technologies transforming medicines discovery, Birmingham has a big part to play as a leading cluster in 21st Century life and health sciences.”

The commission, which was set up earlier this year by the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership, is chaired by Birmingham businessman Graham Silk, who is also co-founder of the Cure Leukaemia charity and Patients4Data.

The commission identified that Birmingham is playing a leading role in developing new models for accelerated clinical trials, which are providing patients with blood cancers earlier access to new drugs, at no cost to the NHS.

The report notes that the new Institute of Translational Medicine being developed at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, which opens this month, will extend these models to other diseases including solid tumours and rare, auto-immune and chronic diseases.

A number of areas where local partners, in conjunction with the Government and industry, need to work together to unlock Greater Birmingham’s potential around life sciences have been identified.

This includes increasing the involvement of academic and health partners in translating medical innovations into new treatments for patients, and to develop new ways of financing this activity. The Commission also recommends investment in patient data systems, education and training, and support for small businesses looking to enter the life sciences and healthcare markets.

Mr Silk said:

Birmingham has a number of important and unique strengths to offer as a location for clinical trials, particularly in light of its leading accelerated early phase trials models.

In addition, we have fast and easy access to a large and diverse patient population of 5.6 million, effectively the same number of people as in Scotland, but with the diverse profile of the whole world, all within a one hour travel time.

Combining this with our numerous clinical and academic centres of excellence in a wide range of disease areas and genomics capabilities, we are in an extremely strong position to exploit this opportunity.

Steve Hollis, deputy chairman of the GBSLEP, said:

This report highlights Greater Birmingham’s potential to play a leading role in delivering the UK’s ‘Strategy for Life Sciences’ and faster patient access to cost-effective and innovative medicines, devices and diagnostics. It also underlines the increasing imperative for the rapid assessment of new therapies which makes Greater Birmingham such an attractive option for life science investors.

The GBSLEP Board has endorsed the commission recommendations and believes it is important that local partners adopt them so that we can build on our current success in pioneering life sciences services in the UK.

If we are to accelerate the delivery of personalised healthcare for a range of major diseases including cancer and liver disease, we must grasp these opportunities without delay. This will also go a long way to creating more jobs and delivering further growth for our region. The Institute of Translational Medicine and Life Sciences Campus will create in excess of 4,000 jobs and this number could be increased significantly.

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