September 07, 2011 -- An investment of £4.4m in a unique academic-business collaboration between pharmaceutical development company Almac and Queen’s University, Belfast (QUB) will help develop better tests for diagnosing and treating prostate, ovarian and breast cancer.
The research initiative, based at the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology (CCRCB) at Queen’s, will be led by Professor Richard Kennedy, one of Almac’s experts in personalised medicine - which tailors specific treatment to each cancer patient.
Invest Northern Ireland and The McClay Foundation, the charitable trust established by the late Sir Allen McClay, are partnering to fund the lab facilities and staff costs. Invest NI has offered the Almac Group and QUB £1.5 million of support towards the collaboration, which includes part funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
The collaboration was announced ahead of CCRCB’s 3rd International Cancer Symposium taking place at the Waterfront Hall, Belfast tomorrow (Wednesday and Thursday 7-8 September), which attracts leading cancer experts from around the world to focus on how academia can interact with industry to improve cancer treatment.
Professor Kennedy, the newly appointed McClay Chair of Experimental Cancer Medicine at Queen’s University - a joint appointment with Almac - said the project was an excellent example of how business and academia could work together in the fight against cancer, the leading cause of death in Western civilizations.
He explained: “The research will involve using cutting-edge technology developed by Almac which will allow us to analyse large numbers of patient tumours collected by Queen’s.
“We will develop these tests to help clinicians to better understand prostate, ovarian and breast cancer and prescribe the appropriate treatments tailored to the specific patient.
“We hope this will then improve the chances of cure using chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
“Queen's and Almac will also use this information to design new therapies that could improve the chances of response and cure for these cancers in the future.
“More effective treatments will be good news for patients and also for reducing the pressure on the overburdened healthcare system.”
Enterprise Minister for Northern Ireland Arlene Foster said: “Almac remains at the cutting edge of drug development and delivery for specific types of cancer and with Invest NI support, has invested heavily in research projects which have delivered significant economic benefits and advancements in cancer treatment worldwide.
“The company is globally respected for its commitment to innovation and this collaboration project will build upon a successful and longstanding research relationship between Almac and Queen’s University, Belfast. Such academic and industrial linkages are vital to the growth of our economy as they strengthen our knowledge base and enhance Northern Ireland’s reputation as an international research and development hub.”
At this week’s symposium Professor Kennedy will present new research on better tailoring chemotherapy for breast cancer. He will also introduce the speaker of the 2011 McClay Foundation Lecture, Richard M Goldberg from the University of North Carolina and North Carolina Cancer Hospital.
The Almac Group provides a broad range of pharmaceutical services from R&D, biomarker discovery and development, API manufacture, formulation development, clinical trial supply and IXRS® technology (IVRS/IWRS), to commercial-scale manufacture. Almac provides services to more than 600 companies, including all the world leaders in the pharmaceutical and biotech sectors.
The company employs over 3,000 and is headquartered in Craigavon, Northern Ireland. Its North American Headquarters are in Souderton, Pennsylvania and the company also has sites at North Carolina and California.
The McClay Foundation, established by Almac founder, the late Sir Allen McClay in 2008, is a charitable trust which aims to advance the use of diagnostic tools and drugs in the prevention, control and cure of the disease; support and encourage research and innovation in the field of healthcare and allied technologies increase capacity of all people and specifically those in the developing world to access the latest benefits in healthcare and to generate and promote employment opportunities for the people of Northern Ireland.
Invest NI has offered the Almac Group and QUB £1.5 million of support which includes part funding from the European Regional Development Fund under the Sustainable Competitiveness Programme for Northern Ireland.
For more information about Almac contact Jane Wells or Andrea Clements at JPR on 028 9076 0066.
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