'EPSRC and SFI Centre for Doctoral Training in Engineered Tissues for Discovery, Industry and Medicine

Lead Research Organisation: University of Glasgow


The lifETIME CDT will focus on the development of non-animal technologies (NATs) for use in drug development, toxicology and regenerative medicine.

The industrial life sciences sector accounts for 22% of all business R&D spend and generates £64B turnover within the UK with growth expected at 10% pa over the next decade. Analysis from multiple sources [1,2] have highlighted the limitations imposed on the sector by skills shortages, particularly in the engineering and physical sciences area.

Our success in attracting pay-in partners to invest in training of the skills to deliver next-generation drug development, toxicology and regenerative medicine (advanced therapeutic medicine product, ATMP) solutions in the form of NATs demonstrates UK need in this growth area. The CDT is timely as it is not just the science that needs to be developed, but the whole NAT ecosystem - science, manufacture, regulation, policy and communication. Thus, the CDT model of producing a connected community of skilled field leaders is required to facilitate UK economic growth in the sector.

Our stakeholder partners and industry club have agreed to help us deliver the training needed to achieve our goals. Their willingness, again, demonstrates the need for our graduates in the sector. This CDT's training will address all aspects of priority area 7 - 'Engineering for the Bioeconomy'. Specifically, we will:

(1) Deliver training that is developed in collaboration with and is relevant to industry.
- We align to the needs of the sector by working with our industrial partners from the biomaterials, cell manufacture, contract research organisation and Pharma sectors.

(2) Facilitate multidisciplinary engineering and physical sciences training to enable students to exploit the emerging opportunities.
- We build in multidisciplinarity through our supervisor pool who have backgrounds ranging from bioengineering, cell engineering, on-chip technology, physics, electronic engineering, -omic technologies, life sciences, clinical sciences, regenerative medicine and manufacturing; the cohort community will share this multidisciplinarity. Each student will have a physical science, a biomedical science and a stakeholder supervisor, again reinforcing multidisciplinarity.

(3) Address key challenges associated with medicines manufacturing.
- We will address medicines manufacturing challenges through stakeholder involvement from Pharma and CROs active in drug screening including Astra Zeneca, Charles River Laboratories, Cyprotex, LGC, Nissan Chemical, Reprocell, Sygnature Discovery and Tianjin.

(4) Embed creative approaches to product scale-up and process development.
- We will embed these approaches through close working with partners including the Centre for Process Innovation, the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult and industrial partners delivering NATs to the marketplace e.g. Cytochroma, InSphero and OxSyBio.

(5) Ensure students develop an understanding of responsible research and innovation (RRI), data issues, health economics, regulatory issues, and user-engagement strategies.
- To ensure students develop an understanding of RRI, data issues, economics, regulatory issues and user-engagement strategies we have developed our professional skills training with the Entrepreneur Business School to deliver economics and entrepreneurship, use of TERRAIN for RRI, links to NC3Rs, SNBTS and MHRA to help with regulation training and involvement of the stakeholder partners as a whole to help with user-engagement.

The statistics produced by Pharma, UKRI and industry, along with our stakeholder willingness to engage with the CDT provides ample proof of need in the sector for highly skilled graduates. Our training has been tailored to deliver these graduates and build an inclusive, cohesive community with well-developed science, professional and RRI skills.

[1] https://goo.gl/qNMTTD
[2] https://goo.gl/J9u9eQ

Planned Impact

Humanised, 3D tissue models are finding interest due to current overly-simplified immortal cell lines and non-human in vivo models providing poor prediction of drug safety, dosing and efficacy; 43% of drug fails are not predicted by traditional screening and move into phase I clinical trials1. Phase I sees a 48% success rate, phase II a 29% success rate and phase III a 67% success rate [1]. The drug development pipeline is pressurised due to adoption of high throughput screening / combinatorial libraries. However, while R&D spend has increased to meet this growing screening programme, success, measured by launched drugs, remains static [2]. This poor predictive power of the >1 million animals used in the UK each year drives the 12-15 year, £1.85B pipeline, for each new drug launch [3]. Contract research organisations (CROs) are also similarly hit by these problems.

Drive to reduce animal experimentation in toxicology and outright banning of animal testing for e.g. cosmetics in the UK has driven companies to outsource or to adopt the limited number of regulator approved NAT models for e.g. skin [4,5].

Another key area that uses 3D tissues is the field of advanced therapeutic medicinal products (ATMPs), i.e. tissue engineering/regenerative medicine. Regulation is a major ATMP bottleneck. It is thus noteworthy that regulators, such as the UKs Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), are receptive to the inclusion of NAT-based data in investigative medicinal product dossiers [6].

The lifETIME CDT will directly address these issues through nurturing of a cohort training not only in the research skills required to conceive and design new NATs, but also in skills based on:

- GMP and manufacture.
- Commercialisation and entrepreneurship.
- Regulation.
- Drug discovery and toxicology - a focus on the end product.
- Policy.
- Public engagement.

Our NAT graduate community will impact on:

- Pharma - access to skills that develop tools to unlock their drug discovery and testing portfolios. By helping train graduates who can create and deploy NATs, they will increase efficiency of drug development pipelines.

- ATMP manufacturers - the same skills and tools used to deliver NAT innovation will help to deliver tissue engineered / combination product ATMPs.

- CROs - access to skills to create platform tools providing more sophisticated approaches to the diverse research challenges they face.

- Catapult Centres - access to skills that provide innovation that can be deployed across the broader healthcare sector.

- Regulatory agencies e.g. MHRA - better education for the next generation of scientists on development of investigational new drug / medicinal product dossiers to speedup approvals.

- Clinicians and NHS - access to more medicines more quickly through provision of highly skilled scientists, manufacturers and regulators. NATs will help drive the stratified/personalised medicine revolution and understand safety and efficacy parameters in human-relevant tissues. Clinicians will also benefit from development of ATMP-based regenerative medicine.

- Patients - benefit from skills for faster and more economically streamlined development of new medicines that will improve lifespan and healthspan.

- Public and Society - benefit from the economic growth of a thriving drug development industry. Benefits will be direct, via jobs creation and access to wider and more targeted healthcare products; and indirect, via increased economic benefit of patients returning to work and increased tax revenues, that in turn feed back into the healthcare systems.

[1]. Cook. Nat Rev Drug Discov 13, 419-431 (2014).
[2]. Pammolli. Nat Rev Drug Discov 10, 428-438 (2011).
[3]. DiMasi. Health Econ 47, 20-33 (2016).
[4]. Cotovio. Altern Lab Anim 33, 329-349 (2005).
[5]. Kandarova. Altern Lab Anim 33, 351-367 (2005).
[6]. https://goo.gl/i6xbmL



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