The British government has unveiled a major funding boost for its 100,000 Genomes Project, with a further $506 million (£300 million) set to be spent over the next four years. Illumina is responsible for more than half of the cash, with the U.S. sequencing giant due to invest $273 million in England.
The rise of electronic health records was heralded as a step toward the merging of patient care and research, a scenario in which data from the day-to-day of healthcare is gathered to inform treatment and drug development. But a study in the United Kingdom suggests that while technology can now facilitate this vision, the path is blocked by another barrier: red tape.
Pfizer has a reputation for being a company that will cut jobs deeply once a merger is done, a rap that raised a lot of fears during its run at AstraZeneca. But the U.S. drugmaker can now point to about 100 jobs in Ireland that it is sparing as business has improved.
When Illumina unveiled its HiSeq X Ten in January, the alignment between its capabilities and the needs of England's 100K Genome Project were clear. The project aims to sequence 100,000 genomes by 2017 for around $160 million, figures that only look achievable using the massive output and relatively low costs of the HiSeq X Ten. This week the tie-up became official.
Another piece of the United Kingdom's push to create a National Formulation Centre fell into place this week when a state-funded group joined with industry to commit £14.4 million ($24.7 million) to a product and process design facility. The new site will support companies with the development, prototyping and scale-up of formulated products.
In the months since the United Kingdom slammed the breaks on its controversial patient data sharing scheme, officials have tried to hit upon a model that a now wary public will accept. And this looks set to result in a scaling back of the project's initial ambitions, with doctors calling for it to become an opt-in system and the group providing the technology admitting the program will start small.
Eli Lilly has taken the unusual step of investing in Epidarex Capital's new, $80 million life sciences fund, with an eye to backing the Scotland-based group's portfolio of academic spinouts. This was Lilly's first investment in a U.K. venture fund.
Britain's Parliament has summoned executives of Pfizer and AstraZeneca to a hearing, during which they will be grilled about their proposed merger, which has sparked broad opposition among Brits concerned about preserving jobs and R&D operations.
The U.K. is investing £38 million in its National Biologics Manufacturing Centre, part of the country's "High Value Manufacturing Catapult" effort started several years ago to increase its presence in biologics.
The notion that a party drug could be repurposed into a "miracle" cure for severe, treatment-resistant depression is an almost irresistible story line in the popular press. And there's no reason why it can't be recycled using results from the same small, short-duration study design that long ago attracted some of the world's largest research organizations still engaged in researching new drugs in one of the most difficult fields in R&D.