In this exciting and challenging time for advanced therapies, the Cell and Gene Therapy (CGT) Catapult and the aligned network of Advanced Therapy Treatment Centres are working hard to overcome barriers and create opportunities. Dr Jacqueline Barry is the Chief Clinical Officer for the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult. Here she talks about what support the Catapult can offer and the growth of the advanced therapies sector in the UK.
To read the full interview with Dr Barry join the Advanced Therapies Network (ATN) or log in to the network, where you can also register for the ATN event on clinical trials.
What is the aim of the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult?
The Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult’s central goal is to grow the UK Cell and Gene therapy industry and to build a vibrant and supported ecosystem that is attractive for developers.
Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult looks out for the new and growing barriers on the horizon and develops systems, technologies and capabilities to overcome them. This allows us to respond to what the field needs from us and work to complement the skills already present.
There has been a 60% expansion in the UK’s GMP licensed manufacturing space and 30% increase in employees – what do you think is the reason for the growth in the sector?
I think it’s multifaceted. Here in the UK we have a tremendous academic base in the Cell and Gene Therapy field which acts to build the early trial work. In fact, given its size, the UK contributes a disproportionately large amount of European and global trials and new technologies. This has led to a large amount of excellent SMEs in this space. In addition, there is substantial government backing for cell and gene therapy: for example in the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund and in the industry sector deal.
I also believe the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult has been influential in that growth, not only because we are a very good core connector and a hub of information and technologies that we can share with industry, but the 60% expansion growth you mention has actually also been partly driven by the opening in April of our Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult manufacturing centre where commercial scale manufacturing systems are developed.
These all combine to feed into the vibrant ecosystem here in the UK.
For those looking to work with the NHS, how difficult is it and do you have any advice?
I think engaging with the clinical sites early is important to fully understand what is required for the delivery of a therapy to the NHS. The Advanced Therapy Treatment Centres (ATTCs) are developing systems for the accelerated delivery of these therapies to the NHS, therefore developers are encouraged to engage with the ATTCs and with the Advanced Therapies Network (ATN) to work together to overcome potential barriers for the delivery of their therapies.
Can you tell us more about the Advanced Therapies Treatment Centres (ATTCs) and how people can gain support from them?
The UK ATTCs were funded by the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, which provided up to £30 Million to build a network of centres that would develop the systems for the NHS to speed up the adoption of these therapies. It is important to stress that these centres are exemplars set up to build the NHS systems for training and other capabilities; they are not however, the only centres in the UK which will deliver these products either through clinical trial or through routine supply.
The Catapult’s role is one of co-ordination and ensuring the three centres are working together efficiently. In addition, the three IUK funded centres are working with London Advanced Therapies, a major centre of the development of therapies in the UK, and other centres to ensure a cohesive front door and a common approach to the delivery of these therapies throughout the UK.
To read the full interview with Dr Barry join the Advanced Therapies Network (ATN) or log in to the network. Here you can also register for the first ATN event on clinical trials where Anna Outhwaite from the Advanced Therapies Treatment Centres (ATTC) Network will be talking in depth about the ATTCs and the available resources and support for clinical trials in advanced therapies.
About Jacqueline Barry
Jacqueline is a board Director of the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult. She joined the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult as Director of Regulatory Affairs and has since been promoted to Chief Clinical Officer. Prior to this Jacqueline worked at the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service where amongst other activities she designed the regulatory strategy for the Cellular Therapies for the Blood Transfusion Service. Before that she held a number of post-Doctoral academic posts at the University of Edinburgh studying neuromuscular regeneration. She has considerable experience in the development, translation, clinical trial and approval of cell based medicinal products and therapies.