Leading medical research charity’s decision to set up shop in Stevenage confirms town’s prestige in pharmaceutical industry

The Accelerator Building at the SBC campus in Gunnels Wood Road

The Accelerator Building at the SBC campus in Gunnels Wood Road - Credit: Archant

Stevenage’s credentials as a world leading centre where ground breaking drugs are produced to beat some of the world’s deadliest diseases have been given a huge boost with the announcement that medical research charity MRC Technology is setting up laboratories in the town.

The independent life science and medical research charity has already developed drugs to help beat cancer, multiple sclerosis and arthritis.

Now it is moving its centre for discovering new drugs to a state-of-the-art laboratory at the Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst campus in Gunnels Wood Road.

The organisation is behind some of the most pioneering drugs developed in recent times including medications used to slow the symptoms of MS, combating rheumatoid arthritis, and ulcerative colitis and one which is used to treat types of lung cancer when other therapies have failed.

MRC Technology’s chief executive Dave Tapolczay told the Comet: “This is an exciting phase in our development.

“The move provides the increased laboratory space and facilities needed to drive research and development programmes, so we can help more organisations progress innovative medical science and find solutions to some pressing health issues.

“The move marks the next stage in our mission to be a catalyst for life changing science, improving human health and advancing medical research.”

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Catalyst chief Martino Picardo said by partnering with leading firms already at the campus including GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson and Eli Lilly, and with health organisations and researchers from leading universities, new cutting edge drugs will be discovered ‘faster, better and cheaper’.

He said: “It means you can fail earlier in the process because you can find out if someone has tried something before.

“By working in partnership together it means we can develop drugs more quickly and more cheaply.”

He said the move would also provide a boost to the Stevenage economy with the firm bringing 110 employees to the new base.

MRC Technology will move into a building on the site called the Accelerator which it has fitted out.

The cutting edge science of gene therapy will also focus on Stevenage from 2017 when a group called Cell Therapy Catapault opens a £55 million building at the Gunnels Wood Road site.