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Funding awarded to boost production of biological drugs

Posted on 14 April 2021

The University of York and its partners have received £4.2m to revolutionise the cells used to produce biological drugs and increase their cost-effectiveness.

Logo for Centre of Excellence in Bioprocessing 2.0

The research will be conducted through the Centre of Excellence in Bioprocessing 2.0, a partnership with FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies UK and the Universities of Manchester and Edinburgh, which brings together state-of-the-art tools and synthetic biology expertise to develop these life-changing treatments.

The drugs under investigation are based on genetic material from different sources and treat life-limiting diseases including cancer, haemophilia and rheumatoid arthritis. 

The research is expected to have a major impact on the biopharmaceuticals industry by speeding up the process of drug and medicine production and improving its efficiency.

Principal investigator Professor Bob White, from the University of York’s Department of Biology, said: “Our research should help bolster the UK pharmaceuticals industry. The proportion of biologics within the medicines industry is currently estimated at 20 per cent, but it is growing fast and by the end of this year the global biologics market is predicted to reach a value of $319bn. This research should lead to new jobs and economic benefits. ” 

Professor Nia Bryant and Dr Dani Ungar, also from the University of York’s Department of Biology, are co-investigators on the project. Professor Bryant said: “By increasing cost-effectiveness, we hope the research will increase the availability of powerful biologic drugs to patients who need them most.“

York and its partners form one of nine Prosperity Partnerships with funding from Engineering and Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC), Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), business and academia. The partnerships are designed to build on existing UK strengths in industry and academia to develop new technologies, processes, and skills that will deliver economic growth and create jobs in areas across the UK.