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Last Updated: Friday, 25 April, 2003, 15:47 GMT 16:47 UK
Cancer drugs unit for university
Cancer drugs
The centre aims to increase production five-fold
A Scottish university has been given a leading role in anti-cancer drug manufacturing with the opening of a major drug formulation unit.

Cancer Research UK's 2m laboratory at the University of Strathclyde has been hailed as the largest academic facility of its type in the UK.

It is hoped the unit's high-speed research targets will bring Scottish-made medicines to more cancer patients than ever before.

Opening the unit, Scottish Parliament Presiding Officer Sir David Steel, who is himself recovering from prostate cancer, said: "It's an honour to declare this spectacular new facility open.

By speeding the progress of new drugs into clinical trials, there's a real prospect that this unit will save lives
Sir David Steel
"It will confirm Scotland's position at the hub of British cancer research and help to get new drugs to cancer patients much more quickly.

"By speeding the progress of new drugs into clinical trials, there's a real prospect that this unit will save lives."

The original unit, founded in 1983, has handled about 100 different compounds and manufactured more than a million units of medicine, used to treat 10,000 people with cancer in the UK and across the world.

'More drugs'

The new facility incorporates premises for sterile drug production and quality control testing, allowing it to produce up to five times as many drugs in a year as its predecessor.

Dr Gavin Halbert, director of the formulation unit, said: "I can't wait for us to start using these new facilities, which will allow us to accelerate the process of drug discovery and development.

"Lots more anti-cancer drugs will reach patients as a result of this unit."

The main focus of the facility will not be commercial, instead it aims to get new treatments to people as quickly as possible.

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