A new technology company that will help predict, prevent and diagnose certain diseases has been launched in Manchester following a ground-breaking partnership.

APIS Assay Technologies will be based at Citylabs 1.0, located on the main Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust campus alongside the Manchester Centre for Genomic Medicine, and cements Manchester’s reputation for translating cutting-edge academic science into new products and services.

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.  

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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. It’s been augmented by its uniquely devolved £6bn health and care system.

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 realise the clinical and commercial potential of genomic medicine in diagnostic tests and personalisation of treatment, and in the prediction and prevention of disease. It will use the power of genomic medicine and big data, to convert amazing scientific breakthroughs into clinically approved tests.

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.

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.

In 2020, QIAGEN’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.

Peer M. Schatz, chief executive officer of QIAGEN, said: “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.”

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.”

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 ground-breaking 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. 

Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, president and vice chancellor of The University of Manchester, said: “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.”