Vision & Aims
The network of Innovation Hubs for Gene Therapies aims to accelerate academic-led development of novel gene therapies throughout the UK.
Set up in 2021 with £18m of funding from the independent research charity LifeArc, the Medical Research Council (MRC), and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the hubs will operate as a coordinated network, sharing technical skills and resources.
Three new dedicated facilities have been created at King's College London, NHS Blood and Transplant in Bristol, and the University of Sheffield.
The Hubs will enable academic researchers to progress novel gene therapy research into clinical trials, offering access to GMP (good manufacturing practice) facilities for clinical trials materials, alongside essential translational support and regulatory advice.
These will manufacture commonly used vectors including both lentivirus and adeno-associated virus (AAV) that are needed for genetic therapy trials. The network will also design and share commercially ready platforms, using common cell-lines, plasmids and reagents to:
- reduce costs
- facilitate simplified licensing agreements
- streamline regulatory reviews
A key aim is to smooth the transition between small-scale supply for early clinical trials through to larger-scale manufacture for patient trials, and beyond. These Hubs will position the UK for significant bioprocessing innovation work with the potential to radically increase yields and reduce productivity barriers in future years.
Gene therapies offer huge potential as treatments for a wide range of conditions, and the UK has a world-class genetics research base. Recent developments in the field have meant that we are moving rapidly towards a time where gene therapies will become a healthcare standard.
However, gene therapy development is critically dependent on the manufacture of the underpinning viral vector delivery technology. The Innovation Hubs for Gene Therapies will accelerate academic research programmes down the path to patient benefit.