UCLPartners is a founding partner of MedCity, a collaboration between academic, NHS and government organisations which aims to make London and the greater south east of England a world-leading life sciences cluster.
Launched in April 2014 to promote and grow the world-leading life sciences cluster of England’s greater south east, MedCity is promoting life sciences investment, entrepreneurship and industry in the region by:
- Providing a single front door and concierge service for industry and investors looking for partners, infrastructure and expertise
- Facilitating and supporting collaboration across all parts of the sector to turn innovations into commercial products and services
- Fostering an environment that supports and encourages entrepreneurialism
- Raising awareness globally of the region’s rich life sciences ecosystem
Over the next 20 years, MedCity will position the greater south east of England as a world-leading, interconnected region for life sciences research, development, manufacturing and commercialisation to stimulate greater economic growth.
MedCity is a collaboration between the Mayor of London and the capital’s three Academic Health Science Centres (AHSCs) – Imperial College Academic Health Science Centre, King’s Health Partners, and UCLPartners.
The UCLPartners AHSC is renowned for collaborative working, bringing together academics, clinicians and patients through its six Academic Medical Centres (AMCs). MedCity builds on this foundation by linking UCLPartners with the breadth and strength of life science expertise across London and the South East.
UCLPartners has made a major contribution to MedCity through our clinical trials expertise. By bringing together the AHSC, the NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN) North Thames, the NIHR CLAHRC North Thames and UCLPartners’ status as a Quintiles Prime Site, UCLPartners is able to offer companies developing new medicines, devices and products, the opportunity to work with one of the most diverse populations in the country.
UCLPartners also provides the link for MedCity to DigitalHealth.London – a collaboration between the three London AHSNs – which aims to help London to become a global centre for the adoption and commercialisation of digital health technologies.
Since its launch in April 2014, MedCity’s work has focused on supporting both international companies and home-grown entrepreneurs to do business in the region.
Activities include promoting life sciences within the investment community by building a community of angel investors and partnering with the London Stock Exchange to engage generalist brokers and investors.
It is leading work to position London as a leading centre for digital health research and entrepreneurship, and supporting entrepreneurs and emerging companies to understand the route to market, for example by mapping innovation adoption paths in the NHS.
It is also working with companies to help them find the right accommodation, partners, and expertise in the region, as well as guide them through the regulatory frameworks.
Achievements across the partnership
- Professor Amit Nathwani and colleagues have successfully used gene therapy to treat adults with haemophilia B, which for some trial participants has been life-changing. Professor Nathwani’s work also has significant economic importance. It currently costs £140,000 a year to provide a patient with regular injections to treat the condition. If this can be replaced with a single dose of gene therapy, major savings could be made. To date, the trial alone is estimated to have saved around £2m in health service costs.
- Research at UCL pioneered B-cell depletion to treat rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and stimulated the development of B-cell-directed therapies for other autoimmune diseases. Now NICE approved, B-cell depletion in RA is as effective as the alternative (anti-TNF drugs) and allows effective treatment for patients unable to gain benefit from anti-TNF drugs. This offers cost savings of up to £5,000 per patient and is more convenient.
- The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine’s research on trachoma, the leading infectious cause of blindness, has shown that a single oral dose of azithromycin is an effective, feasible mass treatment and could eliminate trachoma from affected communities. A project to compare the impact and cost effectiveness of different strategies for the administration of azithromycin has had a life changing impact for millions of people and led to Pfizer donating azithromycin in 21 countries. Since 2008, 205 million azithromycin doses have been donated.
- In the London Project to Cure Blindness, a collaboration between Professor Pete Coffey at the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology and Dr Lyndon da Cruz from Moorfields Eye Hospital, embryonic stem (ES) cells are being tested as a way to treat age-related macular degeneration, the most common form of blindness in later life. The work is being progressed in partnership with Pfizer.
- Collaborative research across UCLPartners has revealed that a high dose of the cholesterol-lowering drug simvastatin significantly reduces brain shrinkage in people with secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (SPMS).
- Professor Adam Timmis, Queen Mary University of London, leads a collaborative research group focused on healthcare delivery as it affects cardiovascular outcomes. The group’s research in patients with suspected angina has led to national implementation and validation of rapid access chest-pain clinics in hospitals – a model that has been replicated widely in other countries –and a paradigm change in diagnostic testing that has informed national guidelines.
If you would like more information about UCLPartners and MedCity, please contact Professor Joanne Hackett, Director of Commercial Development.