George Freeman announces investment in new stratified medicine initiatives

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Minister for Life Sciences George Freeman has announced a further £13.7 million investment in stratified medicine collaborations funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC).

The money is comprised of four new awards, bringing the total of stratified medicine consortia funded by the MRC to thirteen with investment totalling over £52 million. The latest announcement forms part of the government’s £130 million commitment to stratified medicine set out in the UK Life Sciences Strategy.

The thirteen collaborations have attracted over 50 small, medium and large pharmaceutical and biotechnology partners from across the UK and also from Europe, the US, China and Japan. The consortia also include thirty-two academic partners and a number of charities.  

Stratified medicine research uses diagnostic tests or techniques to group patients within a disease area through their genes or by their symptoms. This enables doctors to provide more targeted treatment for patients based on their risk of disease or how they are expected to respond to treatment.

This approach also has benefits for industry because of the potential for more efficient therapeutic development – as well as the market expansion for new treatments.  

The UK is well-placed to develop stratified medicine approaches because of its strong academic and industrial research bases, the wealth of data within the NHS and because of the datasets provided by established long-term patients cohorts, the UK Biobank and the world’s first national phenome centre.

Previous MRC stratified medicine partnerships have used the approach to develop diagnostic tools and treatment strategies in rheumatoid arthritis, hepatitis C, schizophrenia and primary biliary cirrhosis.

Speaking at the Future of Healthcare Investor Forum at the London Stock Exchange, where he opened the market, George Freeman said:  “Bringing together UK universities, the NHS and commercial partners, these collaborations will investigate targeted treatments that will benefit patients with cancer, heart disease, asthma and lupus.”