Next generation molecular diagnostics business launches at Manchester’s health innovation campus

Health Innovation Manchester and global partner QIAGEN announce ground-breaking new company to develop new tests for the prediction, prevention, and diagnosis of disease.  

Manchester reinforced its place today as a leader in translating brilliant academic science into new products and services which will transform the future of medicine and maintenance of human health. At a ceremony in the Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust / Manchester Science Partnerships Citylabs 1.0 building, partners launched ‘APIS Assay Technologies’, a new business dedicated to developing novel techniques (called biomarkers) for diagnosing disease and pinpointing the treatments which are right for each individual patient.

The initiative is the brainchild of global biotech company QIAGEN, which has already announced a major expansion of its Manchester R&D hub, and Health Innovation Manchester, the unique partnership between the city region’s universities, health and care providers and funders which is working with industry to accelerate innovation to tackle Greater Manchester’s pressing health problems.  

APIS will be based in Citylabs 1.0, located on the main Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust campus alongside the Manchester Centre for Genomic Medicine.

Manchester is at the forefront of precision healthcare and is fast becoming a global life sciences cluster, augmented by its uniquely devolved £6bn health and care system.  The partnership will bring fast-tracked real health benefits to Greater Manchester’s citizens and people across the world through access to new tests and targeted treatments developed through pioneering research.

Rowena Burns, Chair of Health Innovation Manchester, said: “Greater Manchester’s vision is to create a globally-leading precision health campus for innovation, translational science and molecular diagnostics, employing up to 1,500 highly skilled people.  Our partnership with QIAGEN underlines their role as the UK’s flagship industry partner and acts as a catalyst for Manchester to become a major hub for genomic research and industry in Europe.

“This is a major development for life sciences here – and across the North – and a testament to our long-standing history of forming public-private partnerships to support the creation of jobs, growth, address the health needs of local people, while also making an important international contribution to improved diagnosis and treatment of disease.”

APIS will help to realise the clinical and commercial potential of genomic medicine in diagnostic tests and personalisation of treatment, and in the prediction and prevention of disease. Using the transformational power of genomic medicine and big data, APIS will overcome the hurdles that have so far hampered these amazing scientific breakthroughs being developed into clinically approved tests and companion diagnostics which are in day to day use. 

The company already has three tests in development, including for prognostic breast cancer diagnostics.  They plan to use insights gained in oncology to expand its diagnostics services to other disease areas such as liver and lung diseases, pharmacogenomics and non-invasive reproductive diagnostics, using advanced technology. The company is actively in talks with a number of pharmaceutical and diagnostic companies about establishing partnerships. 

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APIS operates from Manchester’s £36m precision health campus on the Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust site, announced last year. The company already employs 26 scientists and analysts, with plans to expand to around 50 employees by end of the year.

QIAGEN is a world leader in genomic medicine and molecular diagnostics, with an existing research and development centre in Manchester.  In 2020, the company’s Manchester business will take possession of Citylabs 2.0, a flagship facility on the Citylabs campus, anchoring QIAGEN’s European Centre of Excellence for Precision Medicine and global hub for diagnostics development. HInM forecasts that the total campus will continue to develop as home to a vibrant community of large and small businesses, drawn by the adjoining centres of clinical and academic excellence, and providing up to 1500 highly skilled jobs. 

Peer M. Schatz, Chief Executive Officer of QIAGEN, said: “We’re proud that QIAGEN was selected as a partner to create this innovative new company APIS, which we believe has the potential to accelerate scientific discovery and drive the development of valuable molecular tests. We believe that this partnership with the great scientific and clinical expertise and capacities found in Manchester will accelerate molecular biomarker research, leading to the development of new and promising diagnostic assays.

“This collaborative initiative can serve as an incubator for translating genomic biomarkers into clinical use. We are certain that the people of greater Manchester and patients all over the world will benefit from advanced diagnostic insights.”

Ian Kavanagh, Chief Operating Officer of APIS Assay Technologies, said: “We are very excited about the challenge that lies ahead. APIS combines scientific talent, unique development expertise and cutting edge technology, helping us bring molecular diagnostics to benefit patients around the globe.  Our business model rests on three pillars – a biomarker industrial research program, the fast-tracking of biomarkers and diagnostic platforms for market sale and contract development.”

Health Innovation Manchester – the ground breaking partnership between the NHS, industry and academia to accelerate proven innovations into health and care – led the consortium including Manchester City Council, Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, the University of Manchester, Greater Manchester Combined Authority and Manchester Science Partnerships.

Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council, said: “This is a landmark moment which will help confirm Manchester as a world leader in this fast-growing industry. Some of the most groundbreaking life sciences research being done anywhere is taking place right here and it has the potential to be an important element in our city’s future success – not just boosting our economy but also opening up revolutionary health benefits for Manchester people.”

Sir Mike Deegan, Chief Executive of Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust said: “Securing and expanding QIAGEN’s future on the Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust site is a pivotal component of our vision to create an internationally-leading research and innovation campus focused on integrated diagnostics leading to better care for our patients. Modern healthcare requires us to handle massive arrays of data from a huge range of technologies to come up with the right answer for patients. This has never been clearer than with genomic medicine, QIAGEN’s immediate focus, which holds the power to deliver transformative clinical benefits at the level of individual patients – the heart of precision medicine.”

Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, President & Vice-Chancellor of The University of Manchester, said: “The University is looking forward to welcoming Qiagen to Manchester’s thriving and exciting global healthcare research and development sector.  It will add another dimension to the world-leading genomic, biological and precision medical research already taking place in the city and at our University.  Our own research in this area is world-renowned and I’m delighted we’ll be enhancing that reputation even further by working closely with Qiagen in this rapidly emerging industry.”

Tom Renn, Managing Director of Manchester Science Partnerships, said: “We are delighted to see the launch of this ground-breaking venture in biomarker commercialisation and look forward to working closely with the APIS team to support its growth.  They are joining a cluster of ground-breaking health and medical technology companies already in Citylabs 1.0 and will be at the heart of Greater Manchester’s upcoming globally-leading genomics campus for innovation, precision medicine, translational science, and molecular diagnostics.”

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