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NHS Unveils New Cell and Gene Manufacturing Facility to Advance Research, Drug Development

NEW YORK – The National Health Service Blood and Transplant on Friday opened a new facility designed to manufacture new cell and gene therapies including patient-specific cancer cell therapies.

The new center, dubbed the Clinical Biotechnology Centre (CBC), is meant to expand the UK's capacity to make clinical-grade products for research and drug development, including early-phase and preclinical trials. It's located in Filton, North Bristol and backed by a £9.4 million ($11.3 million) grant from the UK government.

The CBC has replaced a smaller facility in Langford. Although the new site is not intended for commercial-scale manufacturing itself, the research it houses will provide a pathway to commercial production.

As of now, the UK has a limited capacity to make the DNA plasmids and viral vectors for manufacturing cell and gene therapies. This results in researchers turning to overseas manufacturers, in turn delaying patient access to trials and increasing costs. The new center will give UK researchers a source for domestically manufactured vectors and plasmids, in turn allowing them the chance to cost-effectively make smaller amounts of investigational treatments.

"The CBC will help the UK grow its cell and gene therapy industry in a rapidly growing international market," Lillian Hook, the director of cell, apheresis, and gene therapies for NHS Blood and Transplant, said in a statement. "We won't be designing the treatments, but we will be manufacturing them to the right scale and clinical grade. Cell and gene therapy is a growing area for the healthcare sector and of part of our direction of travel as an organization."