2012 will be a pivotal year for the Cambridge Biomedical Campus as the pace of development is stepped up even further in the bid to transform the site of Addenbrooke’s Hospital into one of the leading centres in the world for biomedical research, patient care and education.Plans include a new multi-occupancy building to house commercial organisations wanting to join the expanding biomedical community. In fact anyone arriving in Cambridge by road or rail will see that the ‘2020 Vision’ is well on track to becoming a reality. In terms of infrastructure, the opening of the new road off the M11 in 2010 and the launch of the Cambridgeshire Guided Busway last August means that access to the Campus is now much faster and easier than before.
Today, the Campus is home to Cambridge University Hospital’s NHS Foundation Trust (Addenbrooke’s and The Rosie), the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Research Institute, the Hutchison/MRC Centre, the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology and the University of Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine.
2012 will see the completion of a number of new developments including:- • The opening of the Medical Research Council’s magnificent 25,000 square metre (270,000 sq ft) building for the Laboratory of Molecular Biology in the autumn • Completion of the extension to the Rosie Hospital at the end of June • The opening of the Deakin Centre for healthcare education in the spring
Plans for the re-location of Papworth Hospital to the Campus in 2015 are expected to be finalised later this year and Cambridge University Hospitals is pursuing its ambition to create The Forum – an exciting development encompassing a new conference centre, hotel and private hospital.
Adjacent to the Campus and an 120-acre country park, Countryside Properties is building the first phase of its residential development called Great Kneighton comprising 4,000 new and stylish homes.
In terms of attracting businesses to the Campus, Liberty Property Trust and Countryside Properties – the property developers responsible for the commercial development of the site – are in discussions with a wide range of potential occupiers. Some of these discussions were catalysed as result of a new initiative launched by Jeanette Walker, Project Director for the developers, which is aimed at facilitating interactions between academics, businesses and clinicians.
Walker has been hosting a series of ‘ABC Dinners’ at which representatives from all three communities are able to meet one another in an informal setting.
“These dinners are not the typical Cambridge fine-dining experience,” she says, “they are simply an opportunity for the business community to meet the clinicians who are the potential prescribers or users of their products as well as the academics who can support their research and help generate new business ideas.”
Walker says that companies are realising that unlike traditional science parks, the Campus is more than just a real estate solution for research-led organisations.
It is a community of like-minded individuals, many of whom are world-leaders in their field, working in successful partnerships both with one another and with industry. She says: “A location on the Campus allows these companies to work side-by-side with experienced clinicians who can help ensure their product is fit-for-purpose; experts who understand the route for adoption of new drugs and diagnostics into the NHS and can act as their internal champion.
“Whilst it is possible to have successful collaborations at arms’ length, there is no doubt that the quality and pace of collaborative research that is conducted through regular, face-to-face interactions is significantly enhanced.
“This close geographic proximity could help to foster a level of mutual understanding, co-operation and trust which may not be achievable to the same extent by phone or email.”
So which types of companies are attracted by this expanding ABC community? There is a significant increase in the number of companies taking a ‘personalised’ approach to healthcare, particularly in cancer which, for the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry, requires the development of both a therapeutic and a companion diagnostic. This area, often referred to as ‘stratified medicine,’ is one where the Campus has the potential to be a world-leader not least because it builds on the two main strengths of Cambridge – ICT and biotechnology – and requires the convergence of disciplinary approaches that were previously viewed as separate and distinct.
This has also given rise to a new generation of companies that are exploiting the business opportunities arising at the intersection of the life, physical and engineering sciences in areas such as genomics, bioinformatics, data-mining and imaging. Strengths of the Campus in personalised cancer medicine can be categorised as follows:- • Investigation into the causes and development of common and rare cancers • Identification and validation of drug targets • Small molecule and biologics drug discovery • Development of novel model systems • Pre-clinical imaging and studies • Biomarker identification and validation for patient stratification • Trials methodology and analysis • Conducting science-led, first- in man studies including studies based on patient selection • Evaluating and understanding drug response using pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics, molecular pathology (including tissue arrays), proteomics, genomics and molecular imaging • Dose selection and escalation optimisation • Phase 1-3 clinical trials
This expertise is underpinned by world-class facilities and technical resources ranging from state-of-the-art sequencing facilities; large repositories and registries of well-characterised and curated tissues; a proprietary cancer clinical record system; the latest imaging machines including MRI and PET-CT; specialist cancer trial centres that actively encourage patient recruitment and streamline the entire process of conducting clinical studies; and well-equipped, purpose-built clinical trial wards.
Personalised cancer medicine aims – to help companies:- • Reduce their drug discovery and development costs • Increase safety and efficacy • Make rational and educated go/no-go decisions • Reduce attrition rates • Salvage compounds that would not otherwise be viable • Strategically differentiate your drug and position it for greater market penetration and premium pricing
For companies involved in the development of innovative medical devices and diagnostics, the opportunity to collaborate routinely with clinical end-users from an early stage on a face-to-face rather than on a long distance basis is invaluable.
And with the urgent need for healthcare providers to reduce costs whilst improving patient care and treatment outcomes, there is growing interest in technologies that enable the safe and accurate monitoring of patients in the home – another area where Cambridge has world-class expertise.
In the field of regenerative medicine, the Campus is continually expanding its capabilities in the discovery of cell-based therapies and the platform technologies required to enable this area of research and clinical application to progress further.
The developers recently unveiled plans for a potential new building on the Campus with the capacity to house 100,000 sq ft of labs and offices.
Andrew Blevins, managing director of Liberty commented: “Clearly in the current economic climate we need to secure a significant level of pre-lets before starting to build and we are in discussions with a number of occupiers at the moment.
“We are interested in hearing from anyone with both short and long-term property requirements at this early stage in the development so we can factor these into our plans.”