Creating the medicines of the future

There can be few regions more suitable to host the National Biomanufacturing Centre (NBC) than the Northwest.

Our biomanufacturing sector is one of the top three in the country and contributes more than £5bn a year to the economy.

What’s more, 280 companies work across the sector providing work for 22,000 employees.

And the NBC has been carving out a niche as one of Europe’s leading biopharmaceutical design centres ever since its foundation was proposed by Liverpool University’s ProVice Chancellor, Professor Julian Crampton, in 2000.

Based in Speke, near Liverpool, it works directly with biotech companies as well as leading academic establishments to take new medicines from the research laboratory into the clinic.

It supports the development of biopharmaceuticals from proof-of-concept through to manufacture for clinical trials, market launch and commercial supply.

The Centre's Evolution

Following Professor Crampton’s initial proposal ten years ago, the centre subsequently received a commitment for initial funding from the government.

In 2002, the Northwest Regional Development Agency’s biotechnology cluster programme - Bionow - secured £30 million funding for the project.

The centre was subsequently financed by the Northwest Regional Development Agency - which owns the premises to this day - as well as the European Regional Development Fund and the Department of Trade and Industry.

Following a Europe-wide procurement process, a company named Eden Biodesign was announced as the centre’s operator in 2003.

Eden Biodesign was founded in 2000 by three colleagues from biotech firm Celltech-Medeva - which is now part of global giant Novartis - including: chief operating officer Dr Crawford Brown, chief scientific officer Dr Anita Bate and chief operating officer Dr Derek Ellison.

Construction work began on the centre in 2004 and it became fully operational in 2006.

Dr Ellison explains: “The centre was established to help small and medium-sized enterprises as well as universities channel their expertise - and we still do this today.

"We still offer our clients advice on: how to develop reliable manufacturing processes; regulatory requirements and documentation; manufacturing of materials for clinical trials.

"Our team has experience with every significant biopharmaceutical technology and a proven track record of taking products from the earliest concept studies through to successful marketing approval.

"And over the past four years, we’ve worked on 90 commercial projects in the centre. Up until 2008 the vast majority were for UK companies and academic groups.

"But since 2008, there has also been a an international element to Eden Biodesign with clients from the USA, Europe, and Asia.

"In January this year, we were purchased by Watson Pharmaceuticals. So now in addition to third party work we’ve started taking our own products to market - which begins the next chapter in our evolution."

The Future

Eden Biodesign is now a multinational organisation - which remains headquartered at the NBC - with offices in the United States as well as partner organisations around the globe.

In the summer of 2010, Eden Biodesign announced the latest in its long line of successful collaborations - this time with a Japanese company called Momotaro-Gene.

This company - which is led by Professor Hiromi Kumon from Okayama University - has created a next generation therapeutic cancer vaccine which will help treat prostate cancer patients.

With Eden Biodesign’s guidance and expertise, Momotaro-Gene has advanced the speed with which it can seek global regulatory approval for ‘phase one’ trials - necessary before any new medicine can be taken to market.

Additionally, many members of the company’s 90-strong team based in Speke are also working on an in-house project to develop a ‘follicle stimulation hormone’ product which will improve female fertility treatment.

Dr Ellison adds: "We intend to build on our success and now have ambitious development plans in place.

"Not only do we intend to add to the space we have here in Liverpool, but we also intend to embark on a significant recruitment drive in the near future.

"We’ve 90 staff working here currently, but anticipate that this number will have increased to 150 by the end of 2011.

"And by 2015, this figure will hopefully have increased to 400 as we continue to offer the most scientifically advanced development and manufacturing services to biotech clients across this region as well as Europe, the USA, Asia, Africa and Australia."


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