04 Sep Scottish Government publish “Life Sciences Innovation and Responding to COVID” report
Excerpt from “Life Sciences Innovation and Responding to COVID” ministerial report from Ivan McKee, minister for trade, investment and innovation.
This report aims to provide a snapshot of just some of the innovation in the sector to support testing supply chains as well as vaccine development and associated supply chain. It cannot possibly capture all of the activities taking place and I would like to reiterate my thanks to all those who have played a part in any way to help Scotland continue to tackle this virus. I must also mention the many highly skilled lab technicians and researchers within our universities and hospitals who are working long and hard to support our aims. Our work will continue for as long as it is needed and we will continue to need your support in those endeavours.
IVAN MCKEEMINISTER FOR TRADE, INVESTMENT AND INNOVATION 26 August 2020
Section A: Life Sciences Sector In Scotland
Scotland has a thriving life sciences sector and is home to many world leading companies, academic and research organisations and is at the forefront in scientific innovation across a number of fields.
The Scottish Government recognises the important of the sector and our holistic approach is reflected in our strategy, The Life Sciences Strategy for Scotland: 2025 Vision. The implementation and momentum of the strategy is led by the Life Sciences Scotland (LSS)Industry Leadership Group, which brings together key figures from the private and public sectors to drive industry-wide collaboration and alignment. Its aim to increase the industry’s contribution to the Scottish Economy to £8billion by 2025.
We have made strategic investments in conjunction with our enterprise agencies over a number of years to ensure Scotland is the location of choice for new inward investors and to provide the environment to see our home grown success stories expand and venture into new markets.
Our approach forges the vital close working relationship between industry, the NHS and academia(the ‘triple helix’). We have invested in developing centres of excellence in order to keep making those ground-breaking discoveries in medical treatments and attracting world class researchers who see Scotland as a choice location for collaborative research. There have also been significant investments in city deals in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Inverness, Aberdeen and Dundee to support the sector.
This investment by the Scottish Government and our agencies has helped the sector play a valuable role in the economy, by contributing £2.4billion GVA and the sector has achieved, on average, year-on-year turnover growth of 10% since 2010.
It also contributes just under one fifth of our Business Enterprise Research and Development spend, and is a major contributor to our exports.
Section B: Life Sciences industry support for COVID-19
Many Scottish business have been involved in supporting the COVID-19response in Scotland as well as wider UK and global responses. We have been working with Scottish-based companies in the key areas of Testing supply, Repurposing Drugs; Vaccines Development and Vaccine Supply Chain.
Testing Supply Chain
Since the start of the pandemic the demand for test capacity, and the materials required to take samples and process them in labs, has increased exponentially. In March 2020 the Scottish Government’s requirement was to secure enough supply of test capacity and test sampling kits to undertake 30,000diagnostic tests per week in Scotland. This has since increased significantly as the Test and Protect plans have developed.
The most recent testing strategy will increase thatfigureup to65,000tests completed per day for Scotland, with many more tests being processed in Scotland to support the response across the rest of the UK.
One of the companies which helped to meet the greatly increased demand for test swabs was Dundee-based Hutchison Technologies which works in many sectors including in medical technologies. The company pulled together a commercial proposition ensuring NHS Scotland could purchase approved and quality assessed medical supplies. played a major role in sourcing viral test swab kits to address urgent shortages in NHS Scotland and delivered a total order of 3.4million swab sample kits. The company is now looking to expand its international operations after successfully supporting NHS Scotland with virus testing equipment in the fight against coronavirus.
A similar supply issue across the UK during that time was the provision of extraction media for use with the test swabs. E&O Laboratories based in Bonnybridge rose to the challenge. The company had previously received support to expand their premises including a £425,000Regional Selection Assistance (RSA)grant in 2015 to build a new manufacturing facility in Cumbernauld.
In response to the pandemic, the company expanded from making filled petri-dishes for the NHS to include ready-to-use products and producing a special type of Viral Transport Medium that makes the analysis of test samples safer and more straight forward.
By using a formulation from NHS Scotland labs the company used their skilled staff in research and development, business development, and procurement to find out what, where, when and how to best respond. The company also set out to understand and adapt including re-engineering machines for automation and retraining of staff. This innovative approach led to the company obtaining a £7millioncontract with NHS Scotland.
Testing in Scotland has taken place in both NHS labs, rapidly expanded to meet the demands of the crisis, and the Lighthouse Laboratory in Glasgow. To optimise results both key NHS labs and the Glasgow Lighthouse Laboratory have received dedicated support from the enterprise agencies, in particular the Scottish Manufacturing Advisory Service, which is working to optimise the throughput of test samples by the adoption of LEAN manufacturing principles.
ThermoFisher Scientific, with Scottish sites at Inchinnan and Perth, has been a key industrial partner of the NHS work at the Lighthouse Laboratory at the University of Glasgow, Queen Elizabeth University Hospital Campus. Other partners include Scottish based businesses BioAscent and BioClavis and also the University of Dundee and the Beatson Institute.
The company supplies both testing machines, used in Lighthouse Laboratories across the UK, and the chemical test kits used to process test samples in the laboratories. The company is seeing increased demand for their products used in the COVID-19 PCR testing workflow and is building increased manufacturing capacity in Scotland This multi-national company will shortly supply 20 million tests per week globally.
They are also supporting the UK response with 4.5 million sample collection and transport kits provided weekly as a result of a $25millioninvestment by ThermoFisher Scientific in Perth.
The company is supporting global vaccine development work. Thermo Fisher Scientific is making a significant investment of $100 million in the Inchinnan site in support of Europe, Middle East and Asia bioprocessing customers and importantly the vaccine development work happening in the UK. This will also increase headcount at the site.
The company has previously received Regional Selection Assistance (RSA) funding of £1.9million from Scottish Enterprise to bring £12.6millioninto the Advanced Granulation Technology facility in Inchinnan, creating 30 jobs and safeguarding 47.
BioAscent is a contract research organisation based in BioCity in Newhouse, Motherwell. The company helped create Scotland’s new Lighthouse Laboratory and provides biotechnology and pharma expertise by using its library of compounds for companies to design, make and test new drugs.
BioClavislaunched its operations in Scotland at the end of 2017. It is a personalised diagnostics spin-out from BioSpyder, a US-based biotechnology company established in 2012. BioClavis is based in Scotland’s Precision Medicine space on the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital campus in Glasgow. Its mission is to enable the cost-effective healthcare of individual patients through the use of gene-based diagnostic testing in coordination with established healthcare systems.
Repurposing Drugs In response to the virus ,the approval and use of drugs required a quicker process to ensure companies could secure approval that could cut years off the time usually taken for medications to become available to people with illnesses related to their COVID-19diagnosis. In Scotland this had led to some companies obtaining Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency(MHRA)approval to test drugs for use in treatments in related conditions.
Novabiotics in Aberdeen has been testing one of its drugs on COVID-19 patients with secondary lung infections. The antibiotic helps them tackle difficult to treat and drug-resistant bacteria.
Since 2005 the Scottish Investment Bank has supported NovaBiotics with over £3 million in equity and loans, representing a18.2% stake in the company. The company also works closely with the University of Aberdeen.
Glasgow-based biotechnology company TC BioPharm(TCB)is planning initial clinical trials at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. to start safety trials on an experimental therapy designed to kill COVID-19 infected cells. The company is a world leader in clinical use of gamma-delta T cells (GDTs) which are the first line of defence in viral infection and are pre-programmed to target a wide range of diseases including many cancer types. TCB is a pioneer of the first scalable allogeneic gamma delta T cell therapy platform.
The company have had significant Scottish Enterprise support totalling £4,685,160 in equity and grants.
ILC Therapeutics based in BioCity in Newhouse is currently developing a treatment for moderate and severe psoriasis and in June 2020 announced work with the University of St Andrews to progress a potential treatment for COVID-19 towards clinical trials. The partnership will focus on ILC Therapeutics’ drug Alfacyte and the role it can play in preventing COVID-19 induced Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS)which could help reduce the need for patients to be on a ventilator and also limit the damage to a patient’s lungs.
Also in BioCity and responding to the prevention of ARDS is Lamellar Biomedical Limited. In April 2020 the company announced a new programme to address the potentially fatal consequences of COVID-19 on respiratory function to reduce the damaging and often fatal inflammatory response known as Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) seen in patients. Lamellar is backed by both institutional and private investors, including Invesco and Scottish Enterprise.
Pneumagen in St Andrews has accumulated evidence indicating that its drug candidate successfully treats coronavirus infections. In May 2020, the company announced it had received £4 million investment from Thairm Bio and the Scottish Investment Bank to allow the clinical development of Neumifil for the universal treatment of respiratory tract infections caused by flu andCOVID-19.The company is progressing towards first-in-human trials early 2021.
Across Europe there is also work to develop greater public-private partnerships to accelerate the discovery and development of urgently needed medicines to treat SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
Exscientia, a spinout from the University of Dundee, is part of the new CARE (Corona Accelerated R&D in Europe) consortium supported by the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) and launched on 18 August 2020. The company specialises in AI drug discovery to accelerate the pre-clinical phase of drug discovery and following significant investment has established further operations in Oxford (HQ) and Osaka, Japan. Exscientia will lead the small molecule drug design activities in the CARE consortium, using the power of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to accelerate the pre-clinical phase of drug discovery.
To help with continued supply for the relief of respiratory symptoms, GSK sites in Scotland have also been critical to producing salbutamol for use in inhalers and has been working with NHS National Services to produce additional stock to be used within COVID-19 hubs and assessment centres across NHS Scotland.
Global pharmaceutical company, GSK, has a significant presence in Scotland and is critical to the global pharmaceutical supply network producing active pharmaceutical ingredients for antibiotics, respiratory inhalers, HIV medicines and dermatology products that support over 23 million patients on a daily basis worldwide.
The demands of this pandemic are unprecedented. Scotland’s response has been innovative, collaborative and one which we can all be proud of. The Life Sciences sector in Scotland was already a success story, and the experience of recent months demonstrates how much potential there is to increase its strength and grow into the future, making a difference to the lives of people across the world and continuing to provide economic opportunities in Scotland. This report provides a snapshot of some activities and my thanks go out to the many more businesses from the 770 organisations and 41,000 staff in the sector who are supporting this work and those that are working at the forefront of scientific and technological advances in other treatments and therapeutics. It is important that the sector in Scotland continues to invest in innovation to support the global response to the pandemic.