£8.7m scheme seeks better route to modern medicines

An £8.7 million collaboration led by the University and a global biotechnology company will seek to develop more cost-effective ways to make modern medicines.

Edinburgh Genome Foundry
The Edinburgh Genome Foundry, a research facility that specialises in the assembly of large DNA fragments using automated systems

The five-year partnership with FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies UK (FDB) will use leading-edge analytical tools and engineering biology techniques to enable cost-effective manufacturing of biological drugs.

Drugs made using a method that brings together genetic material from different sources – called recombinant DNA technology – have improved treatment of life-limiting diseases including cancer, haemophilia and rheumatoid arthritis.

Improved manufacturing

Researchers from the Universities of Edinburgh, Manchester and York will work with FDB to study and modify cells commonly used in biotechnology – CHO cells – with the aim of making biological drugs cheaper and easier to manufacture.

The award of this grant unlocks the power of new technologies we have developed and applies them to this key industry challenge. The aim is to better understand and improve one of the key cell-based manufacturing platforms of biopharmaceuticals. Ultimately it will mean that treatments and vaccines used by many millions of people worldwide will be easier and cheaper to manufacture.

Susan RosserProfessor of Synthetic Biology

We are delighted with the partnership we have with the University of Edinburgh and it is aligned with our core purpose to advance tomorrow’s medicines. We are a supporter of great science in the United Kingdom. This is an exciting project that will allow us to understand, model and ultimately design CHO cells to be more efficient.

Andy ToppingChief Scientific Officer, FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies UK

Commercial support

Edinburgh has led the three-university partnership with FDB since 2018. From the outset, Edinburgh Innovations, the University’s commercialisation service, has provided support to the collaboration.

This major funding award shows the leading position of Edinburgh and our partners Manchester and York as successful collaborators with businesses and other organisations. Only by working together can academic researchers and commercial businesses both maximise the impact of their work, for mutual benefit and common goals.

Dr George BaxterCEO, Edinburgh Innovations

UK funding

The collaboration is supported by one of nine Prosperity Partnerships announced on 2 April by the UK government, funded by a £75 million investment from business, academia and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

The partnerships will build on existing UK strengths in industry and academia to develop new technologies, processes and skills that will deliver economic growth and create jobs across the UK.

Tapping in to the expertise of some our finest scientists and researchers, including at Teesside’s FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies and the University of Edinburgh, this state-of-the-art collaboration will seek to accelerate the development of biological drugs to help treat those with life-limiting diseases such as cancer. This is part of our efforts to put the funding and structures in place to ensure we build back better through innovation, drive local economic growth and cement the UK’s status as a science superpower.

Kwasi KwartengSecretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Related links

Edinburgh Genome Foundry

Edinburgh Innovations

FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies