The UK is striving to establish itself as a hub for precision medicine, departing from a one-size-fits-all approach and using it as a means to promote health equity.
The precision medicine sector is experiencing rapid growth, and the UK is in a strong position to support companies in developing and implementing solutions.
The UK’s precision medicine ecosystem provides:
- Exceptional research capabilities.
- Unmatched research data resources.
- Leading and highly skilled infrastructure.
- A supportive business environment and policies that facilitate the expansion of this thriving industry.
Businesses can collaborate with the UK in precision medicine in various areas, including:
Research and Stratification
The UK offers an exceptional environment for developing and commercialising technologies aimed at better understanding and categorising both inherited and acquired diseases. By leveraging cutting-edge genomics and healthcare technology, there is potential for improving early disease diagnosis and prevention. This is complemented by the UK’s unmatched research data resources for uncovering new insights.
Early and more accurate disease diagnosis is a cornerstone of effective precision medicine. This encompasses early-life screening expansion, targeted screening initiatives, and the development of diagnostic devices and tests. The UK is expanding its capabilities in these domains, creating opportunities for innovative diagnostic companies to flourish in the UK.
Precision treatments, guided by diagnostics, have the potential to treat illnesses more effectively. The UK offers a comprehensive national infrastructure for advanced and precision therapies. It provides end-to-end support for industry players, covering research, development, manufacturing, licensing, delivery, and integration into the National Health Service (NHS). This framework facilitates the development and implementation of precision treatment solutions.
In 2019, the global precision medicine market was valued at approximately £46 billion, with the UK contributing £2.4 billion to this total. It is anticipated that the market will experience substantial growth in the years to come.
Investing in the UK offers several compelling reasons. The country’s landscape provides a prime opportunity for foreign investors to engage in research and application. This is due to factors such as an ageing, ethnically diverse, and multicultural population, supportive government policies, and robust regulatory expertise and standards.
The UK’s healthcare and life sciences sector is well-positioned to embrace innovation in precision medicine, thanks to its dedicated precision medicine infrastructure within a national health system, support for technological development, and well-established innovation and clinical trial infrastructure.
The UK boasts a world-leading academic and scientific foundation with access to highly skilled individuals, an established industry and value chain, and active involvement from the research and patient charity sectors. These elements make the UK a highly attractive destination for investment in precision medicine.
The UK offers several strategic hotspots for precision medicine, and the Department for International Trade (DIT) can facilitate connections between investors and these locations. Here are some key areas for precision medicine in the UK:
- Scotland boasts outstanding clinical data, research facilities, industry collaborations, and centers of excellence. It has strong connections with NHS Scotland for real-world applications.
- The University of Glasgow and the local NHS have joined forces with industry and the public sector to establish The Living Laboratory for precision medicine, located next to the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital campus.
- Northern Ireland is a prominent center for high-throughput genomics, digital pathology, and big data analytics.
- The Precision Medicine Centre of Excellence in Belfast, situated at Queen’s University Belfast, collaborates with both industry and the NHS.
- Other notable entities in the region include the Clinical Translational Research and Innovation Centre and the Future Medicines Institute.
- The West Midlands is a hub for experimental and translational medicine and is home to one of the UK’s three Advanced Therapy Treatment Centres.
- The region’s health data platforms offer over 20 years of longitudinal data from more than 1.2 million records, connected across 153 acute care hospitals.
- It excels in precision medicine, clinical trials, diagnostic imaging, and digital leadership.
South East England – Stevenage
- Stevenage, located in Hertfordshire, is known for its cell and gene therapy cluster, which is the largest in Europe.
- Situated between London and Cambridge, it serves as a global hub for research and development and manufacturing.
- Stevenage is home to the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult and Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst, both of which provide state-of-the-art facilities for the discovery and production of cell and gene therapy products.
The UK is a highly effective and efficient location for testing and trialing new healthcare technologies, especially in addressing critical healthcare challenges. This approach not only benefits the industry but also provides early access to innovative solutions for NHS patients.
The UK’s numerous Centers of Excellence offer state-of-the-art research and expertise in precision medicine and diagnostics. They collaborate with companies to help design, research, and develop precision medicine solutions while integrating them into a large-scale healthcare system.
Additionally, the UK features Health Data Research Hubs, some of which are dedicated to exploring precision medicine opportunities.
As part of its commitment to drive the UK to the forefront of global innovation, the government has pledged to increase public spending on research and development (R&D) by £22 billion by 2025. This initiative aims to reach a target of 2.4% of GDP spent on R&D by 2027.
Business and government support
The UK government has a strong history of investment in precision medicine and has consistently collaborated with the charity and third sectors to support programs, infrastructure, and research in this field.
Notable initiatives include the establishment and expansion of the UK Biobank, the creation of Genomics England to oversee the groundbreaking 100,000 Genomes Project (the largest study of its kind in the world), and the integration of whole genome sequencing into routine clinical care within the NHS.
In 2020, the UK government introduced the Genome UK strategy, outlining a 10-year plan to revolutionize genomic healthcare in the country.
The government has also funded essential infrastructure, such as Advanced Therapy Treatment Centers, digital pathology and radiology centers of excellence, as well as MedTech and In Vitro Diagnostics Cooperatives, with the aim of collaborating with industry to accelerate the development and implementation of precision medicine technologies.