National Physical Laboratory and Imperial College London launch new virtual lab to establish the UK Centre for Engineering Biology, Metrology and Standards

From Drug Discovery Today - November 8, 2017

The virtual lab is a new collaboration between institutes undertaking world-leading research in biological measurements, which positions UK as a global leader in the industrialisation of synthetic biology:NPL,LGC, the UKs National Measurement Laboratory for chemical and bio-measurement,NIBSC, and Imperial College LondonsSynbiCITE, the UKs National Industrial Translation Centre dedicated to the commercialisation of synthetic biology. This new lab will develop and providerelevant reference materials and methods in the form of a toolboxaiming to improve the reproducibility of research results that will help convert innovation in synthetic biology into valuable products and services.

The lab is part of 17 million of new government funding announced by The Chancellor of the Exchequer two weeks ago to help translate the UKs scientific expertise into real life treatments, and will focus on accelerating the application of synthetic biology in life sciences.

As a burgeoning sector, synthetic biology cuts across different concepts, capabilities and technologies which need validating before they are ready for commercialisation. There are also many variables to factor in when looking to scale-up the production of a synthetic biology product. All of these need to be referenced to standards to provide certainty in the consistency of the product performance, and confidence in the ability to measure and evaluate key performance parameters. These are the main attributes in deciding which products are adopted, and ultimately commercialised, by industry. Establishing industry-led measurements and standards will safe-guard the quality and safety of products, and allow companies to maintain competitiveness and enhance innovation. This innovation hub will further engage with industry to help transform high-value manufacturing into high-value products that will deliver economic and societal benefits.

This timely and critical investment will support the development of exactly these capabilities. Industry confidence in the higher order biological reference materials that are developed will be ensured through their validation and certification by the UKs National Measurement System (through NPL, LGC and NIBSC). Applications that will benefit most include advanced therapies such as gene, cell and regenerative therapies, as well as the discovery and manufacture of new antibiotics.

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