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NHS, Unis & Pharmaceutical Company to Join Together 2006-04-05

Posted by clype in Health, Money, Science, Scotland.
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Scotland is to lead the world in the development of 'personalised drugs', which are expected to revolutionise treatment for 'cancer', 'heart disease', 'diabetes' and 'mental illness'.

In an unique 50 million GBP collaboration between universities, NHS boards and the pharmaceutical giant 'Wyeth', the medical records of thousands of Scottish patients will be used to design new treatments tailored to individual patients depending on their own genetic make-up.

The First Minister Mr.Jack Mcconnell, said yesterday that the project will push forward revolutionary research. As well as new drugs, experts believe the techniques being pioneered will help to find better ways of preventing serious conditions, such as heart disease. 'The Translational Medicine Research Collaboration' was hailed as a major boost by the research community.

But experts admitted it could still be some years before major breakthroughs reach large patient numbers. Translational medicine is used to describe the process of taking discoveries in the lab to the patient.

A key aspect of the research is the search for 'biomarkers' — proteins or other molecules present in the body which influence how a disease will affect a patient and how it will progress.

These 'biomarkers' are at the root of personalised medicine — allowing treatment to be matched to individual patients who will benefit most.

Last year 2005, a report by 'The Royal Society' predicted that personalised medicines based on a patient's genetic make-up were still decades away because of gaps in the understanding of how genetics relate to the causes of disease. The teams in Scotland will be hoping to close these gaps and bring such treatments a step closer to reality. The Scottish collaboration will involve the universities of Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow, alongside NHS Grampian, Greater Glasgow, Lothian and Tayside.

The USA-based 'Wyeth' will invest about 33 million GBP for the first five years of the project, while Scottish Enterprise will invest up to 17.5 million GBP. It is hoped that any profits made from future discoveries will benefit both the pharmaceutical industry and the 'NHS'.

'Scottish Enterprise' will set up a company, called 'TMRI', to link 'Wyeth' with the health boards and universities. And initially 50 jobs will be created at a state-of-the-art laboratory in Dundee — but this could rise to 120 in five years. The researchers will take advantage of data from thousands of Scottish patients, including 15_000 enrolled in the 'Generation Scotland' project.

  • The project should cement Scotland's reputation as a global leader in medical research, after the successful creation of the world's first mammal clone, 'Dolly the sheep', at 'The Roslin Institute', near Edinburgh, in 1996.

The plans were announced jointly by The First Minister in the USA and The Health Minister Mr.Andy Kerr, in Glasgow. The First Minister who was meeting 'Wyeth' representatives in New York as part of 'Tartan Week', said the link-up was an international first.

 

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'It is great for Scotland and the Scottish economy and will bring health benefits not just for Scots but patients all over the world,' he said.

The Health Minister added:

Andy Kerr
'It is a great example of the public and private sectors working together for mutual benefit.'

Mr.Frank Walsh, from 'Wyeth Research', said:

'Translational medicine is key to the successful development of the next generation of innovative medicines which will truly make a difference for patients the world over.'

The Head of 'The College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine' at 'The University of Edinburgh' Professor Mr.John Savill said they now hoped to speed up new treatments from lab. to the bedside.

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'This is part of the journey towards personalised medicine,' he said.

'It is an aspiration we are working towards.' Prof. Savill said they hoped there would be 'a wealth gain as well as health gain' for the NHS, in terms of a return on the investment.

Senior vice-principal at 'The University of Aberdeen' Professor Mr. Stephen Logan, said:

Stephen Logan
'This is a unique collaboration with the aim of developing therapies for a wide range of major diseases, which include "cancer", "heart disease", "neurodegenerative diseases", "diabetes", "respiratory disease" and a number of "bone diseases".'

Mr.Jim Eadie, The director of'The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry Scotland', said:

'This major investment by a global pharmaceutical company puts Scotland firmly at the forefront of some of the most exciting developments within research.

'It offers the real prospect that tomorrow's treatments for "cancer", "diabetes", "heart disease" and "osteoporosis" can be developed here in Scotland.'

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