The World Health Organisation is today convening its first expert advisory committee on developing global standards for the governance and oversight of human genome editing. The aim of the two-day meeting, in Geneva, is to examine the scientific, ethical, social and legal challenges of gene-editing and create guidelines and standards for it.
The meeting follows a call last week by some 16 leading scientists from 7 countries: USA; China; Canada; France; Germany; Italy and New Zealand for a global moratorium on heritable genome editing.
I attended and participated in the inaugural WuXi Healthcare Forum in Shanghai in March 2019, enabling me to gain a better insight into some of the key trends occurring in innovative life science in China today. Here are a few thoughts that I came away with.
In the last two years China has made a concerted attempt to, and has delivered, fundamental changes to key aspects of its human healthcare market as part of a broader Government push to improve healthcare for the nation and become a leader in biotechnology. They fall into four areas regulation, reimbursement, talent and capital.
I spent last week at the inaugural WuXi Healthcare Forum in Shanghai, and it proved to be a hugely insightful week, with over 2000 global leaders gathered. I spoke on a panel entitled ‘New Era, Golden Opportunities’ where leaders from China and the UK explored how key stakeholders are redefining the innovation narrative – opening up a new era of opportunities and connecting the global life sciences ecosystem. I also attended the British Consulate-General/BioIndustry Association official reception hosted by John Edwards, HM Consul General in Shanghai and Kevin Holland, Minister Counsellor of Life Sciences and Healthcare at the British Embassy in Beijing. You can read a blog on my thoughts from the forum and the other life sciences developments in China here. The UK’s China life sciences tea
Anti-microbial resistance (AMR) is undoubtedly one of mankind’s greatest healthcare challenges. This is emphasised by the fact that this crisis is a main agenda item for the United Nations, World Health Organisation, G7 and G20. Lord O’Neill, chair of the UK Review on Antimicrobial Resistance, put the future in stark contrast in his 2016 report “Tackling drug-resistant infections globally” – if significant steps are not taken to address this issue, >10 million AMR attributable deaths per annum (more than currently caused by cancer) and a total cost to the global economy of $100 trillion by 2050 is predicted.
Fantastic member news came out this morning – Nighstar Therapeutics (who feature in our Cell and Gene Therapies Explainer) have reached an agreement to be acquired by Biogen Switzerland Holdings for $877 million. Nightstar was founded and built by BIA member Syncona Ltd, an industry leader focussed on building and funding global life science leaders. This valuation represents a 4.5X multiple on Syncona’s initial investment in Nightstar and is a resounding endorsement of Syncona’s business model, demonstrating the fantastic returns obtainable through long-term commitment to companies. You can read more about this great news here.
Wish you could see our annual finance report in video form? Well now you can! Check out this animated video of the key data from our annual biotech finance report from 2018. In the report we explore how the UK has competed against other key biotech hubs around the world, and what the health of fundraising is in the sector.
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.
The UK is a world-class life sciences cluster and the BIA is proud to celebrate its successes and champion its strengths. On 24 January we did just that, with an event to launch our latest biotech financing report and showcase four of the UK’s strategic technology strengths to investors.
First, the report. We were delighted to publish Confident capital: backing UK biotech, which shows that 2018 was a record-breaking year for biotech fundraising, with a total of over £2.2bn invested into UK-based biotech companies. That’s £1bn more than in 2017 and includes a doubling of venture investment in private companies. It also means that the UK accounts for over 40% of all European biotech investment.