UK Government to address the underlying biology of aging

UK’s Life Sciences Vision aims to build on pandemic response and deliver life-changing innovations to patients with 10-year strategy to solve some of the biggest healthcare problems of our generation.

The UK is hoping to build on the response of its life sciences sector to COVID-19 to accelerate the delivery of life-changing innovations to patients; the response will form part of the blueprint for the Government’s new UK Life Sciences Vision.

Longevity.Technology: The UK’s Life Sciences Vision was co-developed with businesses and experts in the field, and it sets out a mission-led approach with bold ambition for the next decade. The UK is keen to ensure scientific excellence, partnered with the dynamism of industry, is replicated to assist the NHS in solving the most pressing health challenges of our generation now and in the future.

The Vision outlines 7 critical healthcare missions that government, industry, the NHS, academia and medical research charities will work together on at speed to solve – from addressing aging to tackling dementia.

These missions will focus on preventing, diagnosing, monitoring and treating disease early, using innovative clinical trials to develop breakthrough products and treatments quickly to help save lives, and accelerating the development and adoption of new drugs, diagnostics, medical technology and digital tools.

The missions are:

  • Accelerating the pace of studies into novel dementia treatment
  • Enabling early diagnosis and treatments, including immune therapies such as cancer vaccines
  • Sustaining the UK’s position in vaccine discovery, development and manufacturing
  • Treatment and prevention of cardiovascular diseases and its major risk factors, including obesity
  • Reducing mortality and morbidity from respiratory disease in the UK and globally
  • Addressing the underlying biology of aging
  • Increasing the understanding of mental health conditions, including work to redefine diseases and develop tools to address them

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “We are indebted to the ingenuity of UK life sciences and its pioneers, with the discovery of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine and the seamless collaboration between our scientists, industry, regulators and NHS saving millions of lives during the pandemic.

“We must make sure this is the norm and use this new way of working to search for life-changing breakthroughs against diseases such as cancer, dementia and obesity, as we have done with COVID. That’s why we are setting out our new Life Sciences Vision to bottle the formula we have developed to tackle COVID and improve health outcomes for patients across the board in the UK, and secure jobs and investment in the process as we build back better [1].”

Emulating success

The Vision looks to emulate the successes of the UK Vaccines Taskforce – harnessing private sector expertise and streamlining bureaucracy to allow industry leaders to tackle future healthcare challenges at speed and at risk – with the aim of changing people’s lives for the better.

Interview with Sir John Bell for Longevity Technology
Professor Sir John Bell, University of Oxford, Co-chair, External Advisory Group

The Government hopes the Vision will benefit from what it calls “new regulatory freedoms and opportunities now that we have left the European Union”, claiming that the Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) will be able to act as an independent, agile, sovereign regulator, with a focus on getting vaccines, drugs, and technologies to patients as safely and quickly as possible.

Addressing the most pressing healthcare challenges of our generation now and in the future will be an important part of the government’s levelling up agenda, helping to reduce health inequalities and improving outcomes for patients in every corner of the UK.

Professor Sir John Bell, University of Oxford, Co-chair of the External Advisory Group said: “There is now a race to become one of the world leaders in the growth of Life Sciences as an industrial sector. We have demonstrated throughout the COVID pandemic how effective we can be when industry, academia, government, charities and the NHS all work together. If we continue to work as effectively together we are very likely to bring great benefits to patients and also to grow our economy at pace.”

Investing in life sciences

The government has today also launched its Life Sciences Investment Programme, a £200 million government investment that will unlock the potential of innovative UK life sciences companies so that they can grow their operations and create high-skilled jobs in the UK.
The programme will leverage further private sector investment and support the development of a world leading UK life sciences venture capital ecosystem.

The investment will be delivered through British Patient Capital, part of the government-owned British Business Bank, which will allocate the £200 million to specialist funds.

In a further boost to the sector, British Patient Capital has recently agreed a collaboration with Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Investment Company, one of the world’s leading sovereign investors. Under this partnership, facilitated by the Office for Investment, Mubadala has committed to invest £800 million in the UK life sciences industry and will work with British Patient Capital to identify sector trends and investment opportunities.

In total, this means £1 billion of new funding is available for the UK’s most promising life sciences companies, with the potential to crowd in further funding from other investors.
The Life Sciences Investment Programme will have access to a scientific advisory panel composed of leading industry figures, chaired by Life Sciences Champion Professor Sir John Bell. The panel will share insight on key scientific trends.

Image credits: James Newcombe / Unsplash and Sir John Bell