Cancer Research UK is building a £20 million (US$50.0 million) purpose-built facility for its Biotherapeutics Development Unit, part of the charity’s Drug Development Office and responsible for developing antibodies, gene therapies and cancer vaccines for use in clinical trials.

Building work has already begun at Cancer Research UK’s (CR UK) Clare Hall Laboratories in Hertfordshire, with completion scheduled for May 2009. The facility, which will house £3.5 million worth of new equipment and a staff of 15, will significantly increase the number of biological compounds generated by CRUK for testing in humans, the charity said.

CR UK’s Biotherapeutics Development Unit is run to current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP) standards and has a licence from the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) for the production of investigational medicinal products. Its development team has extensive experience in the optimisation and scale-up of manufacturing protocols as well as providing the necessary assay development, CR UK noted.

To date, the charity has taken more than 100 potential new cancer treatments from the laboratory into clinical trials, four of which have made it all the way to the marketplace.