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Launch of new UK biotechnology initiative

LGC : 15 March, 2001  (Company News)
LGC, the UK's leading independent analytical laboratory, has led a successful consortium bid to formulate a new national science programme for the advancement of measurement in biotechnology. The programme, commissioned by the DTI's National Measurement System, will develop the facilities and expertise needed to support growth and prosperity in the UK's biotechnology industry.
To develop the programme, the team of LGC, NPL and the BioIndustry Association will consult extensively with business sectors to seek out generic measurement issues and to ensure the programme will meet the needs of the small business market, long recognised as the key to wealth creation from biotechnology in the UK. The scope of the formulation will be wide, covering measurement issues at the level of the cell, the gene and the protein while acknowledging the importance of bioprocessing and biophysical measurement.

The consortium will identify the research requirements to underpin future biomeasurement techniques, procedures and equipment, principally by improving the comparability and reproducibility of biomeasurement. The formulation will also establish how that knowledge can be properly disseminated.

In awarding the contract, DTI recognised the technical experience and industrial networks accessible by the winning team of LGC, NPL and the BIA. Each participant's track record in biotechnology also enhanced the bid. LGC has one of the best teams in the UK in investigating the validity of DNA measurements and will utilise its knowledge of the bioscience applications of mass spectrometry and capillary electrochromatography. NPL will bring unrivalled experience in the physico-chemical measurement methods that underpin the majority of biologicalmeasurement, while the BioIndustry Association, with its strong representation of the SME sector of the industry, will ensure that market needs and knowledge transfer requirements are met.

'The potential impact from advances in the field of biotechnology is enormous,' said Roy Dietz, policy adviser at LGC and lead co-ordinator of the consortium. 'The applications can range from the production of new medicines, medical testing and diagnosis and forensic science, to farming and food production or environmental treatment and safety testing right through to the production of industrial chemicals. The new biotechnology programme we are formulating will help establish the infrastructure that will ensure a consistent, internationally-recognised basis for biomeasurement in the UK. Balanced regulation is a key industry requirement, and a contributor to public confidence, but it must be founded in sound biomeasurement. By implementing a 'fit-for-purpose' measurement infrastructure, industry can be sure of delivering accurate, reliable, demonstrably valid biomeasurements in a system that is co-ordinated with other countries.'

The consortium will report on its recommendations in the Spring. The DTI will launch the programme by October 2001.
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