Manchester is to become home to a world-class ‘designer drug’ project aimed at developing personalised treatments for deadly diseases such as cancer.
Global research and development firm Qiagen is to move its European operation to the Oxford Road corridor in a partnership with the NHS, council, universities and existing institutions such as the Christie Hospital , a move seen as a major coup by local leaders.
Manchester council is to provide funding of up to £24m towards the new ‘precision medicine’ hub, revealed today.
Qiagen uses the latest cutting-edge biomedical research to develop drugs based on people’s specific genetic make-up – known as ‘biomarkers’ – so that both prevention and live-saving cures can be tailored to individuals.
As well as research and development, it will look specifically at accelerating the creation of new treatments for use by the NHS and others.
Local patients will be the first to take part in clinical trials through the firm’s partnership with the Christie and other specialist health organisations in south Manchester.
Council leader Sir Richard Leese told councillors at their latest full meeting – which signed off the council’s investment – that the move was ‘one of the most important and exciting propositions that has ever been put before the council’.
It is understood local health, council and university chiefs have been in discussions for around a year about the move, which will create 250 jobs and could generate 1,000 more over the next decade.
Insiders said one key factor in their success had been the existence of Greater Manchester’s devolved health system, which allowed the firm to deal easily with one streamlined set of health organisations and public bodies.
Qiagen will join an existing cluster of biomedical institutions – including Manchester university’s life sciences department – on the Oxford Road corridor, as well as major world-class organisations such as the Christie and the Paterson cancer research institute further south.
An additional draw Manchester’s high levels of health problems, providing the chance to significantly help as many patients as possible.
Manchester council is providing significant support of up to £21m to the project, while the combined authority has already signed off £3m in investment, but council bosses believe the money – which will be underwritten by expected increases to business rates along the corridor – is a sound investment into both jobs and the city’s health.
The money will come from a mixture of borrowing and the expected increase in business rates along the Oxford Road corridor.
Rowena Burns, chair of Health Innovation Manchester and chair of Manchester Science Partnerships, said: “This is a hugely important step change for Greater Manchester’s already strong life sciences sector.
“The new health innovation campus, with Qiagen at its heart, will support the continued growth of businesses which are driving the future shape of medicine and health care, and cement our position as a world-leader in precision medicine.
“This is precisely what Health Innovation Manchester was set up to do, and combined with our devolved health and social care system, places us in an incredibly strong position to address the health challenges of the population.
She said the move was a ‘massive testimony’ to the city’s existing partnership with Qiagen, which already has a base in Manchester but will be hugely expanding it under the latest move.
Peer M Schatz, Chief Executive Officer of Qiagen, described the plan as ‘win-win’ adding: “We expect this collaborative initiative to serve as an innovation incubator to support translating genomic biomarkers into clinical use and ultimately to yield benefits for our customers and patients everywhere who need advanced diagnostic insights.”
Manchester University Hospital Trust, in a joint venture with Manchester Science Partnerships, will start building a second Citylabs development that will form the centre iece around which the new campus will form.
Sir Mike Deegan, Chief Executive at Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Securing and expanding QIAGEN’s future on the Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust site is a pivotal component of our vision to create an internationally-leading research and innovation campus focused on integrated diagnostics leading to better care for our patients.
“Modern healthcare requires us to handle massive arrays of data from a huge range of technologies in order to come up with the right answer for patients.
“This has never been clearer than with genomic medicine, QIAGEN’s immediate focus, which holds the power to deliver transformative clinical benefits at the level of individual patients–the heart of precision medicine.”