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UCB opens new UK biologics research centre

Published on 08/07/09 at 07:59am
UCB's new biologics research centre in Slough
UCB's new biologics research centre in Slough

 

UCB has officially opened its new biologics research centre in the UK, representing an investment of £25 million for the company.

The Slough site will be used to develop therapeutic antibodies, expanding on UCB's existing capabilities in the area, and it follows a recent string of heartening product approvals for the company.

Chief executive Roch Doliveux said: "The opening of this site today secures UCB's position as a top-tier investor in UK research and development. The additional capabilities the new centre brings enable us to compete on an increasingly competitive world stage, and will help us achieve our ultimate goal of delivering more and better treatments for patients suffering from severe diseases."

UCB is the fourth-largest investor in UK pharmaceutical research and development, after GSK, AstraZeneca and Pfizer. Last year UCB spent £200 million in the country.

The new lab will eventually house over 100 scientists, adding to the company's existing research operation in Slough.

It means around 40% of UCB's overall research will now be done in the UK, with the reminder carried out at its headquarters site in Belgium.

The company's UK research will focus on immunology, and that in Belgium on central nervous system therapies. Some work in the new UK lab began at the end of last year, including new research on one product candidate for osteoporosis.

Lord Drayson, UK minister of state for science and innovation, attended the opening ceremony for the new centre.

He said: "UCB's new R&D facility in Slough will create jobs and boost capacity in an industry where the UK is a global leader. We have a world-class pharmaceuticals sector. The government is determined that we remain in the location of choice for international firms like UCB."

UCB has experienced recent success with Cimzia (certolizumab pegol), which is now approved for rheumatoid arthritis in Europe and the US.

The drug is in the highly competitive anti-TNF class and, after a shaky start, could now be set for a steady ascent. Its success has also come just as several other patent expiries loom for the company.

In the US Cimzia is also approved for Crohn's disease, though is yet to gain European approval in this indication on grounds of insufficient evidence to back up its safety profile.

But Doliveux is confident about prospects for the product, which he says has already become UCB's flagship brand.

He added that the company will soon be consulting Europe's regulators to see what must be done for approval in Crohn's, and has plans to seek marketing approvals for the rest of world in both Crohn's and rheumatoid arthritis.

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