New UK investment for disease research technologies

24 October 2014

Chancellor George Osborne has announced new investment of £230 million for revolutionary technologies in the field of disease research.

A partnership led by the Medical Research Council (MRC), will invest in technologies intended to help find the causes of diseases such as cancer and dementia. With the ultimate aim to speed up diagnosis and treatment, the state-of-the-art technologies will look at how differences in cellular and molecular make-up of people affect their response to diseases and treatment.

The cash injection from the MRC’s clinical research infrastructure initiative is set to advance clinical research in 23 key projects at centres throughout the country, including 15 universities. The partnership brings together £150m UK Government investment with funding from devolved administrations, Arthritis Research UK, British Heart Foundation, the Wellcome Trust and Cancer Research UK. George Osborne said: “The Government, charities, universities and industry will be working together to advance our knowledge in combating the biggest medical challenges of our time.

The investments were awarded across three themes: innovative technologies for stratified and experimental medicine, dementia research and single cell genomics. The University of Cambridge was awarded £25 million of funding that will enable new high-tech facilities for clinical research to facilitate increased stratification of disease, new MRI scanners and the creation of the Cambridge Single Cell Analysis Clinical Core Facility.

Many of the projects will involve partnerships with pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, and the initiative will directly create networks which will help facilitate knowledge dissemination, training, and shared access arrangements.

The UK has played a major role in pioneering the use of medical imaging technology in the last 30-40 years and it is hoped the funding will enable the UK to maintain its position. Life Sciences Minister George Freeman said: “We want to make the UK the best place in the world for life sciences. Building on our existing research infrastructure this investment will speed up innovation of experimental medicine, strengthen partnerships with industry and charities and boost our economic growth in this exciting sector.”  

As part of this initiative, a £24m investment in Genomics England was made to support the 100,000 Genomes Project by providing the infrastructure needs to support data analysis and security; this was announced by the prime minister in August.

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