Cancer Research UK opens medicine manufacturing hub

First product is an antibody for treating cancers

Cancer Research UK’s Drug Development Office has marked the launch of its £18m Biotherapeutics Development Unit (BDU) with the manufacture of its first product – an antibody to treat a range of cancers.

The BDU, based in Hertfordshire, is part of Cancer Research UK's Drug Development Office. It will make experimental medicine and biological research products such as antibodies. These medicines will then be taken straight into early clinical trials of patients with cancer across the UK.

A scientist at work in the new Biotherapeutics Development Unit (BDU)

The product, an antibody called Chi Lob 7/4, was discovered by scientists at the University of Southampton and is currently being tested in a phase I clinical trial to treat cancer patients who are no longer responding to conventional treatment.

Peter Johnson, Cancer Research UK’s chief clinician, who led the trial, said: ‘Having experimental medicines readily available from our own medicine manufacturing centre will be an enormous boost to clinical trials such as this one, which is testing a promising new antibody to treat people with cancer.’

Heike Lentfer, head of Cancer Research UK’s BDU unit, said: ‘The new unit provides us with the infrastructure to bolster our drug manufacturing capabilities, enabling our scientists to translate their findings from the laboratory into trials of new treatments in the clinic.’

The Drug Development Office includes the Cancer Research UK Formulation Unit in Glasgow, which develops experimental medicines in tablet and injection form to be used in clinical trials. The new BDU will develop larger more complex medicines such as vaccines and antibodies.

Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, said: ‘This important new medicine manufacturing hub provides a crucial service to support our scientists, doctors and nurses – and we hope this will have a real impact in the development of new and exciting treatments to beat cancer.’

Companies