Report: UK capacity for cell, gene therapy manufacturing decreases in 2015 as new projects launch

By Zachary Brennan

- Last updated on GMT

Map of the UK cell therapy manufacturing centres, courtesy of Cell Therapy Catapult
Map of the UK cell therapy manufacturing centres, courtesy of Cell Therapy Catapult

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A surge in UK cell therapy production last year means available manufacturing capacity has declined considerably according to a report by Cell Therapy Catapult.

The report says that capacity, which can be contracted out or used for internal projects, decreased on average from 45% in 2014 to 26% in 2015 as a result of an upswing in cell therapy development projects at the 15 UK facilities licensed to carry out such work by the MHRA.

This strongly highlights the increases in the number of cell therapies entering clinical translation and the requirement for GMP manufacture as a result. The implication of this data is that GMP manufacturing capacity will need to continue to expand in line with clinical trial growth​,” Cell Therapy Catapult says.

The report, which notes the addition of two new cell therapy facilities in the UK – at the University of Birmingham and at the Royal Free Hospital -- was accompanied by 16% growth in the number of cleanrooms used for cell therapy manufacture.

The majority of these facilities have been established to enable the translation of academic research into clinical trials​,” according to the report, which says this shows the UK manufacturing base can help facilitate the translation of early phase research into the clinic.

And as the number of projects continues to rise the number of staff working in cell therapy manufacture within these facilities has also increased from 111 personnel to 157 from 2014 to 2015. Although in contrast to cell therapy production, the manufacture of viral vectors and plasmid DNA for gene modification processes is driven by commercial organisations, including Cobra Biologics and Oxford Biomedica, which employ 158.

In addition to these facilities, Cell Therapy Catapult is working on its own facility, which the UK Government has committed up to £55m for. The plan is for the 7200 meters-squared facility to be operational in 2017. 

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