The U.K. innovation accelerator for cell and gene therapies, the Cell and Gene Therapy (CGT) Catapult, is building more than 3,500 ft2 of lab space in Edinburgh, Scotland, to help increase the country’s expertise in stem cells. The new lab space, which is due to begin wet work in the second quarter of 2023, will consist of two manufacturing labs and one analytical development lab.

The high-spec non-GMP lab space is designed to support stem cell projects at a variety of stages. These could include helping startups move from manual to closed processes or supporting established equipment suppliers with upscaling.

“In the ten years we’ve been in place, we’ve done more than 1,000 projects from the London site, and I don’t think any project has been the same,” explains Jacqueline Barry, PhD, chief clinical officer at the CGT Catapult. “So, we’ll develop our capabilities based on the requirements of the people who come to us.”

Along with the manufacturing and development labs, the facility will also include an approximately 650 ft2 universal design lab for people with disabilities.

“There’s a real drop-off from school to university, and then to STEM careers, among people with disabilities,” says Barry. “[The design lab] will be a proof-of-concept build, which we hope to form the basis of specification for other laboratories in the U.K.”

Design lab will open later

The design lab will open later in 2023. The manufacturing and development labs will be staffed by the CGT Catapult but have the flexibility for companies to work alongside Catapult staff as well.

“We’ll be working with academic spinouts and established pharma to develop GMP-ready processes,” says Barry. “We’re hoping to be the next stage for companies to make therapies ready for manufacture before handing to a CDMO [contract development and manufacturing organization] like RoslinCT or building their own labs.”

The CGT Catapult facility aims to help build on Edinburgh’s expertise in stem cells. An estimated 500-1,000 stem cell scientists work at the University of Edinburgh’s Institute for Regeneration and Repair and Centre for Regenerative Medicine.

According to  Barry, this is among the largest groupings of stem cell scientists globally. The facility also hopes to benefit from proximity to pharmaceutical service organizations and contract manufacturers in Scotland’s central belt, along with companies like Reprocell.

The new lab space will also sit within the proposed £1 billion sterling expansion of Edinburgh’s BioQuarter, a 160-acre site three miles south of Edinburgh’s city center.

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