CEO Update | Monday 19 April
Today we have published our latest quarterly update which gives an overview of key policy developments and the BIA’s continued engagement with policymakers, regulatory authorities and wider stakeholders on behalf of the UK life sciences sector, from January to April 2021.
Over the last quarter, the BIA has been at the forefront of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, working with Ministers to strengthen vaccine supply chains and secure future opportunities for UK manufacturing. We have also engaged on vaccine regulation, biotech fundraising, the National Security and Investment Bill and the NICE Methods Review. Read about this and much more here.
BIA Research Relay
This May, the BIA will take part in a Research Relay to raise vital funds for Ovarian Cancer Action, our charity partner of 2021.
Throughout the month of May, Ovarian Cancer Action is calling on members of the BIA to create a team of up to ten people, complete 1000km and aim to raise £1,000 along the way. Gather your colleagues, family or friends and start clocking up those kilometers in whatever way you would like - skipping, walking, jumping or cycling. The steps you take will help fund research that aims to create a world where no woman dies of ovarian cancer.
The money you raise as part of the BIA Research Relay will power progress in three main areas of ovarian cancer research: preventing the disease; diagnosing it earlier; and developing kinder, more effective, personalised treatments. Sign up here.
It was promising to see a UK study demonstrate the efficacy of the Oxford/AstraZeneca and Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines in elderly adults, with both jabs eliciting antibody responses. It was also interesting to see that the Oxford vaccine induced a stronger T-cell response in these adults than the Pfizer shot. The study has yet to be peer reviewed.
The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine continues to receive scrutiny around rare cases of blood clots, with Denmark stopping the rollout of this vaccine. A pertinent study has shown that the risk of developing a serious blood clot is 8 to 10 times higher in people with COVID-19 than those who receive a vaccine.
On mRNA vaccines, I was glad to hear that Moderna’s early trials of a vaccine targeting the South African variant have shown promising results in mice, raising hopes of its effectiveness for humans.
NICE 5-year strategy
Today the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) launched its 5-year strategy which aims to speed up patients’ access to new treatments and innovations. The COVID-19 pandemic has reaffirmed the need to place science and evidence at the heart of health and care decision making and improve outcomes for all patients across the healthcare system.
Positive sector news
Fantastic to see that BIA member Alchemab has completed a £60m Series A funding led by RA Capital Management, with participation from Lightstone Ventures, Data Collective VC, DHVC, SV Health Investors and the Dementia Discovery Fund. The funding will be used to advance Alchemab’s novel platform, designed to identify disease-modifying antibody therapeutics.
South West regional event
This Thursday I am looking forward to our South West regional event, (still virtual under the current lockdown restrictions) which will focus on advanced therapies in the South West of England. We will be joined by eXmoor, Purespring, Cytoseek, and NHS Blood and Transplant. Register here.
Science Technology Facilities Council (STFC) Advisory Bodies
Applications to Science Technology Facilities Council (STFC) Advisory Bodies and Peer Review Panels are now open. STFC is seeking applications from academia, government, industry and third sector and civil society communities (including charities) relevant to STFC’s grant programmes, and from the communities supported by STFC facilities.
To find out more sign up for STFC Panel Membership Recruitment Webinar 14.00-15.00 GMT 23 April 21 (stfcmembershipcall.co.uk)
Steve Bates has been the CEO of the UK Bioindustry Association since 2012. He currently chairs the International Council of Biotech Associations and has been a Board member of Europabio since 2015. Steve is the visible face of the vibrant UK life sciences industry to government and media. He sits on the UK’s Life Sciences Council and Life Sciences Industrial Strategy Implementation Board. Steve has championed with government effective industrial incentives like the Biomedical Cataylst which have crowded-in private sector investment into UK SMES. He has forged links for the sector across the USA, Europe and in China. In his time at the BIA Steve has developed new member groups focused on cell and gene therapy, genomics and engineered biology. A strong advocate of partnership working, Steve champions sector collaboration with research charities and academia. Proud to lead an organisation with a diverse Board with over 40% female representation, Steve is committed to next generation talent and developing the skills needed for the sector to flourish. Before the BIA, Steve worked for Genzyme and as an advisor to the UK Government of Tony Blair. He was made OBE for services to innovation in 2017.