The Drug Development Office of Cancer Research UK has launched an £18 million facility to manufacture experimental medicines and biologicals for clinical trials. Cancer Research UK has christened the new facility, based at the charity’s Clare Hall site in Hertfordshire, with the manufacture of its first product – Chi Lob 7/4, a targeted antibody that uses a number of mechanisms to attack tumours, including stimulation of the body’s own immune system to recognise and kill cancer cells.

Discovered by scientists at the University of Southampton, Chi Lob 7/4 is in a Phase I clinical trial, conducted at CRUK’s Southampton Centre by chief clinician Professor Peter Johnson, involving cancer patients who are no longer responding to conventional treatment.

CRUK first announced in October 2007 that it was building the Biotherapeutics Development Unit in Hertfordshire, saying it would significantly increase the volume of biological therapies produced by the charity for early-phase testing through its Drug Development Office.

With capability to manufacture plasmid DNA, monoclonal antibodies and recombinant proteins, the BDU is run to current Good Manufacturing Practice standards and is licensed by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Authority to manufacture investigational medicinal products.

The new facility will complement the Drug Development Office’s Cancer Research UK Formulation Unit in Glasgow, which develops smaller and less complex experimental medicines in tablet and injectable form for use in clinical trials.