New advanced therapies facility offers promise for hard-to-treat diseases

A new state of the art advanced therapies facility – the Advanced Therapies Accelerator (ATA) – opened today at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust.

The ATA, which is co-located with the Guy’s and St Thomas’ Biomedical Research Centre (BRC), now places Guy’s and St Thomas’ at the heart of the movement to deliver gene and cell therapies for conditions such as cancer, diabetes, genetic disorders and neuro-degenerative diseases to patients.

Advanced therapies offer promise for severe, hard to treat diseases, but their translation from the laboratory to early phase clinical trials can be limited by access to specialised infrastructure and expertise.

This new facility is designed to address these challenges by bringing together in one location, the infrastructure required for clinical grade manufacturing of gene and cell therapy products and the expertise to support development of therapies through early phase clinical trials to commercialisation.

The opening of the ATA was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, but has now been completed. As its Director, Professor Ali led on the final stages of developing the Accelerator, and is helping to implement the strategy for advanced therapies at the NIHR BRC at Guy’s and St Thomas’.

Professor Robin Ali said:

I am excited to begin this new chapter in our BRC’s work. Advanced therapies offer a step change in the treatment of a range of conditions, and the Advanced Therapies Accelerator will place Guy’s and St Thomas’ at the heart of that movement.

My aim is that with our state-of-the-art facilities and the knowledge and skills of my colleagues at the ATA, we will be able to provide support for a broad range of cell and gene therapies.

The ATA is one of the UK’s largest academically-run translational research unit for advanced therapies. Working in partnership with our academic partners King’s College London, and industry partners through the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult who are already working with Orchard Therapeutics will allow for cross pollination of expertise, technology and translational research between different types of advanced therapies.

Matthew Durdy, Chief Executive Officer of the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult said:

This collaboration with Professor Ali and the Advanced Therapies Accelerator is another step in bringing together world class researchers with the needs of industry. We look forward to working together in these state-of-the-art facilities to progress our collaborators advanced therapy research into life changing therapies.

Professor Matt Brown, Director of the NIHR BRC at Guy’s and St Thomas’ added:

It’s great to see our work on advanced therapies developing in this new direction, and the benefits to patients this will bring. The Accelerator completes our ‘end to end’ centre of excellence for gene and cell therapies. We are now poised to deliver on our strategy of accelerating the development of advanced therapies into clinical settings where they can benefit patients.