Catapults invest in people, technologies and facilities so the UK is able to maintain its position in sectors where it has established strengths, and punch above its weight in emerging, high value markets. As the Industrial Strategy suggests, these are ongoing missions so much of the work of the Catapults takes the form of long-term, strategic programmes. The success of the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) is one example; the recent history of DNA based medicine in the UK provides another.
Since recombinant DNA was discovered in the early 1970s, enormous research effort has been invested in finding out how the replacement, regeneration or re-engineering of cells, genes and tissues can be used to create new medicines or treatments for conditions ranging from diabetes to cancer. Britain is a leader in cell and gene therapy research but translating that into commercial success required the Cell and Gene Therapy (CGT) Catapult to work proactively across wide a range of fronts, developing new production and cryopreservation techniques; streamlining the clinical trials process; helping companies comply with regulations; investing in skills and providing new research facilities.
The CGT Catapult recently announced the sales of a subsidiary business, Catapult Therapy TCR which is set up in collaboration with Imperial Innovations which focused on the development of a gene-modified WT1 TCR T cell therapy for acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) and myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) that are known to overexpress the antigen WT1.
The acquisition of Catapult Therapy TCR Ltd by Cell Medica will enable and accelerate the further development and
commercialisation of this innovative treatment in one of the most promising areas of cancer immunotherapy. The optimisation and development of next-generation T cells will be conducted by Cell Medica and CGT Catapult and manufacturing will take place at CGT Catapult’s large-scale cell and gene therapy manufacturing centre located at the Stevenage BioScience Catalyst.
This is just one of over 30 new businesses that have been created during the time of the CGT Catapult, which has seen companies in the sector raise over £1.3bn in funding. Inward investment has also grown, with leading international firms from the US, Spain and Japan locating research and development activity here. As a result, Britain now has 7% of a global market predicted to be worth between $14–$21 billion by 2025.