One of the key policy areas of focus for the BIA is pre-clinical research. The use of animals is a key part of research in the safe and efficient development of medicines, and is a legal obligation for researchers. The BIA are signatories of the Concordat on Openness on the Use of Animals in Research, an agreement which promotes transparency and understanding of animals in research. Good science and good animal welfare go hand-in-hand, and this video from the Wellcome Trust highlights just how important the use of animals is when researchers seek to unravel the complexities of disease and human biology.
A key part of the BIA’s work on the Spending Review (SR) is engaging parliamentarians, who have a role in scrutinising and approving the Government’s decisions. To start this process, two weeks ago we teamed up with partner organisations across the life sciences sector to organise an event in the House of Commons – “Keeping the UK a world leader in medical research: the need for cross-government coordination”.
BIA Chair Jane Osbourn has announced this week that she is to leave Astra Zeneca after 25 years with Cambridge Antibody Technology and MedImmune. During that time she has achieved a huge amount of biological drug development, with 8 drugs launched, and biologics now making up 50% of the AZ pipeline. Jane will help with organisational transition at AZ for the next few months and has assured the BIA Board that she will continue as BIA Chair until the end of her term. Jane’s news follows AZ’s announcement (alongside their annual results last week) that it will be restructuring the R&D organisation to align with therapy areas.
We are delighted to launch our very own Brexit microsite today. The microsite shows the important work that the BIA has done in this crucial area and highlights the issues that matter most to our members.
When Brexit seemingly takes up an ever-increasing amount of time and resources, it’s important (and perhaps even – dare I say it – refreshing) to remember there are other matters of great concern for the life sciences sector.
One of those matters is this year’s Spending Review (SR)– the process by which the Government decides how much each government department will spend within a given period. This has a major impact on our sector as public funding bodies, such as UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), its Councils and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), are funded through government departments.
Today is ‘International Day of Women and Girls in Science’, a day where we celebrate the fantastic work of women right across our sector. At the BIA we champion women’s role in science through our regular Women in Biotech Networking events, with the next one happening in March, while at our Gala Dinner this year I was delighted that Melanie Lee from Life Arc was awarded the BIA lifetime achievement award. There is some great material being shared online so do stay up to date on twitter using the hashtag #womeninscience and help inspire the next generation.
In 2018, Genomics England announced that they had successfully sequence the genomes of 100,000 individuals. This data provides an invaluable research tool, allowing us to gain insight into the impact of genetics on disease potential and drug efficacy. Genomics is at the very forefront of biotechnology and medicine.
I hope this week that you have been heartened by the news that the first child has been given pioneering CAR-T cancer therapy on the NHS. We also saw announced the death of Dr Stewart Adams, the 95 year old Boots scientist who pioneered the painkiller ibuprofen in the East Midlands in the late 1950s and early 1960s (by curing his own hangover, no less). As Professor Kevin Shakesheff, from the University of Nottingham, said "He is remembered for his successes in creating one of the most important painkillers in the world but, as with many inspirational people, he had to bounce back from failures in earlier clinical trials before he and his team created ibuprofen.
"Epidemic"; "crisis"; "timebomb"; these are the dramatic terms used to describe the impact opioids continue to have on society. Evolving issues are sparking increasing concern for those involved in the development, manufacture and supply of prescription drugs, including their insurers.