Roche has chosen Manchester for its first partnership with an Academic Health Science Centre (AHSC), the new format that brings together top universities and NHS organisations in the UK with the common goal of facilitating patient access to breakthroughs in clinical research.

The alliance between Roche and researchers/clinicians from Manchester Academic Health Science Centre also includes the MAHSC’s colleagues from the Greater Manchester Academic Health Science Network (GM AHSN) and the National Institute for Health Research’s Greater Manchester Comprehensive Local Research Network (CLRN).

The Greater Manchester AHSN is focused on ensuring new medicines, diagnostic tools and health technology become widely available more swiftly in the region, while the Greater Manchester CLRN helps researchers and companies to identify candidate patients for clinical studies and streamline recruitment. 

Biomarker research

The Roche-MAHSC partnership will look at developing biomarker research within MAHSC’s six focus areas of cancer, cardiovascular disease, human development, inflammation and repair, mental health and population health.

Among other declared objectives are supporting training of the next generation of MAHSC researchers and clinicians in clinical and translational medicine; and widening access to available new medicines while encouraging patients to participate more actively in clinical trials.

Closer clinical links between MAHSC and Roche will enable the partners to explore opportunities for combination therapies and to improve understanding of the potential benefits of high-impact medicines, technologies, devices, and diagnostics in the healthcare system, they noted.   

Real-world research

Christopher Burdette, head of project strategy and portfolio management at Roche Products Limited, put this in the context of growing demand for real-world data to substantiate product value.

“To improve patient care, it’s essential to increase our understanding of the role of innovative molecules in the real world, and how new medicines might impact patient pathways and the wider healthcare system,” he commented

Investigators leading clinical trials across MAHSC will gain early access to new drugs through the partnership, while MAHSC studies may in turn identify new uses for existing Roche products.

Mutual benefits

Dr Linda Magee, MAHSC’s business development director, said the collaboration “encapsulates the significant benefits an Academic Health Science Centre can offer industry”. 

For Roche, there is the opportunity to develop and test new diagnostic tools and drugs through access to leading clinicians and researchers, as well as a regional population of 3.6 million, in partnership with the Greater Manchester AHSN and CLRN.

The benefits for MAHSC are also “considerable”, Magee added. “Working with a major global player like Roche gives our teams access to innovative new therapies for our patients and supports the development of the next generation of translational medicine experts and clinical investigators.”

Improve outcomes

The alliance was further welcomed by Raj Jain, managing director of GM AHSN, which incorporates 30 National Health Service providers and commissioners as well as four universities, working alongside the NIHR network. 

“As a system integrator, we are an organisation that links different parts of the health and social care ecosystem, and this partnership with Roche will help us jointly to improve health outcomes and spread innovation at scale and pace,” Jain commented.

The Manchester Academic Health Science Centre is a partnership between the University of Manchester and six NHS organisations.

These are Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust; Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust; Salford Clinical Commissioning Group (as lead representative for Greater Manchester CCGs); Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust; The Christie NHS Foundation Trust; and University Hospital of South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust.