New hospital to create 250 jobs for Edgbaston Medical Quarter

Next summer will see the opening of a new hospital by Circle Health in the Edgbaston Medical Quarter, creating a total of 250 jobs.
Opening in June, treatment at the £50m Circle Birmingham Hospital will be for a varied range of conditions, from digestive problems to hernias, and pain in bones and joints.
There will also be a rehabilitation centre with 120 rehabilitations beds at the new hospital, which will open a couple of months later and will specialise in supporting those recovering from major surgery including hip replacements, as well as strokes and sporting injuries.
The first hospital by Circle was opened in 2008 in Nottingham, with additional sites located in Reading and Bath.
Read the full article here

Medilink Midlands is launched to provide Midlands wide support to the Life Sciences sector

Medilink Midlands, a pan-regional strategic alliance between the Medilinks in the East and West Midlands, has recently been established to bring the collective expertise of the two organisations together to preserve the interests of over 1,700 Life Science organisations within the region and stimulate growth to support this vital element of the Midlands economy.
Since their incorporation over 15 years ago, Medilink West and East Midlands have established comprehensive local connections, and through this partnership Medilink Midlands has a combined network of over 8,000 contacts in over 1,700 organisations within the Life Sciences sector, including the NHS, the AHSN network, major universities and a range of multi-nationals and high value start-ups.
Medilink Midlands has been created to further utilise the skills, knowledge and expertise resident within the current organisations and will provide a more strategic focus on influencing Midlands-wide initiatives that affect the Life Sciences industry, such as the Midlands Engine, as well as wider national initiatives such as the Accelerated Access Review. This will be alongside the operational work of the existing regional organisations that includes skills training, business and innovation support, market access support, R&D collaboration and access to business networks.
The launch of Medilink Midlands follows the announcement of the UK’s Industrial Strategy: government’s long-term plan to boost the productivity and earning power of people throughout the country. One of the five core foundations of the strategy is ‘places: prosperous communities across the UK’. Working alongside the Midlands Engine and other strategic alliances, Medilink Midlands’ sole aim is to help stimulate additional and value-added growth of the Midlands as a prosperous community for Life Sciences.
Lord Henley, Business Minister, said:
“Through our Industrial Strategy and the Life Sciences Sector Deal, we are committed to ensuring the UK is at the forefront of this burgeoning field and we will build on the strengths of our established clusters of excellence.
The new alliance formed through Medilink Midlands will play a vital role in delivering this vision in the Midlands, ensuring that the region plays a leading role in the life sciences revolution while bringing together the collective expertise of the NHS, the huge number of life sciences SMEs and universities in the region.”
Dr Darren Clark, Director Medilink Midlands, commented:
“The UK’s medical technology sector is the third largest in Europe and 98% of the sector is made up of SMEs, the largest regional cluster of which is located in the Midlands. The Midlands is also home to a wide supply chain serving the Medical Technology, Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology sectors. In recent years, Medilink East Midlands and Medilink West Midlands have been increasingly working together, and the formal establishment of Medilink Midlands is a natural extension to continue to help the sector grow on a pan-regional basis.“
Grant Thornton UK LLP has come on board as a strategic partner of Medilink Midlands. Grant Thornton is one of the world’s largest professional services network of independent accounting and consulting member firms; to find out more information please visit
You can find out more about Medilink Midlands by visiting the website
1 HM Government (2016) Strength and Opportunity 2015: The landscape of the medical technology
and biopharmaceutical sectors in the UK, pp. 52
2 UK Trade & Investment and Office for Life Sciences (2016), Strength and Opportunity: the data behind the charts, table at MedTech Regional 1 tab

Edgbaston MP Visits Local Mental Health Charity

Preet Kaur Gill MP for Edgbaston has paid a visit to a leading counselling provision in Birmingham to discuss how the city’s mental health offering could be improved.
50-year-old charity Open Door welcomed Preet Kaur Gill MP to discuss its plans for a campaign to encourage policy makers to invest sufficiently in mental health services in Birmingham, and to ensure patients receive the right services at the right time.
Over the past 12 months, Open Door has received just under 1,500 referrals, with three quarters of those going on to attend counselling with the charity. It currently has 500 people on its waiting list to be helped, and even its urgent list is four weeks long.
Carmel Mullan-Hartley, Chief Executive of Open Door, said: “We were pleased to welcome Preet Kaur Gill MP to talk to her about the issues around current mental health provisions, and the desperate need for investment in services, within Birmingham.
“Budgets are so stretched that young people are having to wait up to five months after an initial referral to receive treatment. By this point, it’s likely that their mental health will have deteriorated further, resulting in their issues becoming more complex and often resulting in an increase of self-harming and suicidal thoughts and feelings. The standard six sessions will then often be insufficient to meet their needs….” Read more

GBSLEP Annual Conference – September 2018 (free to attend)

Greater Birmingham & Solihull’s regional economy has thrived over the past year. The area has cemented its position as the leading core city region for economic growth. Thousands of private sector jobs are being created, major infrastructure projects are underway and new educational and training centres have been opened.
To hear about how we can all build on the region’s recent successes to create a stronger economy for all – from Cannock Chase to Redditch, Wyre Forest to Birmingham, Tamworth to Solihull – make sure you attend the Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP) fifth Annual Conference on the 26th September at The REP in central Birmingham.
At this pivotal point for our city region, the conference will provide an update on current economic issues, review what has been achieved during the last year, and consider what the future holds for the LEP and the region overall.
The agenda will feature esteemed speakers from Greater Birmingham & Solihull’s high growth sectors: Creative Industries; Business, Financial & Professional Services; Life Sciences; Advanced Manufacturing and Energy Technologies. Each speaker will provide an insight into the future of their industries, and what we must invest in as a region to continue to grow our vibrant economy. The speakers line-up is as follows:
Tim Pile: Chair of GBSLEP
Andy Street: Mayor of the West Midlands
Steven Knight: Creator and Executive Producer of Peaky Blinders
Anita Bhalla: Chair of Performances Birmingham plc
Matthew Rhodes: Chair of Energy Capital
Katie Trout: Director of GBSLEP
Michael Mychajluk: Purchasing Manager at Jaguar Land Rover
Carmen Watson: Managing Director of Pertemps, recently named IoD West Midlands Director of the Year
Ken Garner, CEO of Dignio Ltd
The event will also highlight a range of projects that GBSLEP has supported – from assisting and advising local high growth businesses, to funding major regeneration schemes, and providing education providers with new spaces and equipment.
You will be able to ask questions of GBSLEP’s Chair, Tim Pile, meet the wider LEP Board and executive, and network with other senior stakeholders from across the region.
It is a free event for the private, public and third sectors. To register please visit the event webpage:

New database launches in a bid to develop new drugs in the fight against antimicrobial resistance

A new and first of its kind database has been launched listing compounds that could be used to develop new antibiotics in a bid to tackle the global issue of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
The new resource, outlined in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, is the result of a collaboration between the University of Birmingham, the John Innes Centre and the British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy.
It comes after the World Health Organization in 2009 declared AMR one of the biggest threats to mankind and, if not addressed, by 2050 it could kill millions of people – more than from cancer or road traffic accidents.
The free, open-access, searchable database called AntibioticDB brings together antibacterial compound discoveries that were once-promising leads from the past 40 years which have, for various reasons, been dropped or stalled, and may otherwise be overlooked by drug-development companies.
Lead author Professor Laura Piddock, of the University of Birmingham’s Institute of Microbiology and Infection, said: “Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) threatens the effective prevention and treatment of an ever-increasing range of infections caused by bacteria, parasites, viruses and fungi.
“New resistance mechanisms are emerging and spreading globally, threatening our ability to treat common infectious diseases, resulting in prolonged illness, disability, and death.
“One answer to the crisis seems simple: to generate new antibiotics. However, it can take up to 15 years and cost up to $5 billion from the discovery of a compound to progress through pre-clinical and clinical development before a medicine can be licensed and then marketed.
“There is no doubt that the antibiotic pipeline needs revitalization; however, the answer may be not only the development of new drugs, but also re-investigating compounds previously discontinued.
“For this reason, we have developed and populated an easy to use database of antibiotics that can be accessed for free by anybody; we hope this will help both academia and commercial companies with their drug-discovery efforts.”
The database includes links to data on discovery, research and clinical trials, compounds awaiting approval and discontinued compounds, providing a platform for future research, antibiotic discovery and development in the hope this will inspire the lifesaving drugs of tomorrow.
While other pay-per-view resources exist for researchers, AntibioticDB is the first free database designed to appeal to small and medium-sized enterprises or academia.
Read the full article here.

NASA uses antibodies developed at the University of Birmingham to assess the impact of space flight on the immune system

Antibodies developed at the University of Birmingham have been used by NASA to assess how long duration space flight affects the immune system.
The antibodies are part of a medical test called Seralite®-FLC ELISA, which was used in the year-long study of astronauts from the International Space Station to examine the effect of space flight on B cells, the white blood cells that make antibodies to help fight infection.
Reduced immune function during spaceflight has long been a concern for NASA, which has the ambitious goal of manned space flights to Mars by the 2030s.
The study measured free light chains (FLCs) in plasma and saliva of 23 astronauts, using samples taken before, during and after spending 6 months in space. FLCs are of interest because these proteins provide a near ‘real-time’ indicator of B cell function.
The sensitive measurement provided by the Seralite®-FLC ELISA test allowed researchers to monitor changes in the activity of blood cells before, during and after the mission. The samples analysed in the study were taken at baseline (5 months before launch), three times during the mission, immediately on return, and after 30 days back on Earth.
Preliminary findings, presented at the American College of Sports Medicine, indicate that the competency of plasma cells (white blood cells circulating in the blood and produce antibodies) is maintained in microgravity, and indicates that the risk of infection may not be magnified in space missions of this duration.
The Seralite®-FLC ELISA is a sequential sandwich assay used to measure FLC in biological fluids for research and is available from Abingdon Health Ltd.
Abingdon Health does its early stage R&D at the University of Birmingham’s bio-incubator, the BioHub Birmingham®. The company announced in May that it is developing a rapid diagnostic test for mastitis in dairy cows.

Researchers are one step closer to developing eye drops to treat age-related macular degeneration (AMD)

Scientists at the University of Birmingham, UK, are one step closer to developing an eye drop that could revolutionise treatment for age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
AMD is the leading cause of blindness in the developed world. Its prevalence is increasing dramatically as the population ages and it is estimated that, by 2020, there will be about 200 million people worldwide with the condition. In the UK alone, there are over 500,000 people with late stage AMD.
AMD is currently treated by disagreeable injections of sight-saving drugs into the eye which must be administered by medical professionals. Scientists led by biochemist Dr Felicity de Cogan, from the University of Birmingham’s Institute of Microbiology and
Infection, have invented a method of delivering these otherwise-injected drugs as eye drops.
Laboratory research published last year in Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science (IOVS) showed that these eye drops have a similar therapeutic effect as the injected drug in rats. Now the Birmingham scientists have taken their research one step further by investigating the effect of the eye drops in the larger eyes of rabbits and pigs, which are more similar to human eyes.
These studies, also published in IOVS, demonstrated that the eye drops can deliver a therapeutically effective amount of the drugs to the retina of the larger mammalian eye.
The technology behind the eye drops is a cell-penetrating peptide that can deliver the drug to the retina (the back of the eye). The scientists’ pending patents for the eye drops are now owned by US-based company Macregen Inc, and a team of Birmingham researchers is working with the company to develop a novel range of therapies for AMD and other eye diseases.
The combined team is now expediting proof of concept studies to confirm the validity of the therapeutic approach. Clinical trials will be imminent once these studies are completed, and could start as early as the Spring of 2019.
Keith Roizman, Founder, Executive Chairman, and Chief Technology Officer of Macregen said: “Macregen and the company’s prospective strategic partners and licensees are expected to make significant investments in laboratory proof of concept studies, the subsequent R&D programmes and clinical trials. We will also pursue the necessary and required regulatory programmes to make these eye drops available to patients.”
Dr de Cogan commented: “For several years, our team has focused on the challenge of delivering drugs to the back of the eye. From the outset, we realised that delivering drugs through eye drops would mean that patients can administer their treatment themselves, and this would be less costly, save time for patients and healthcare providers, and reduce the potential complications that can arise from injections.
Now that we have shown that the eye drops work in the larger mammalian eye, and we welcome the commercial investment and expertise from Macregen so we can deliver a structured R&D programme that should bring concrete benefits to people with AMD and other eye diseases.”
Professor Robert Scott, Consultant Ophthalmologist and Honorary Professor of Ophthalmology at University of Birmingham commented: “Cell-penetrating peptides will drive the next generation of treatment for people with AMD. They will be transformative for patients who currently have to organise their lives around monthly clinic visits for uncomfortable intraocular injections, who will in the future have the convenience of self-administering their medical treatment.”

Birminghams former BBC Studios to be expanded into world-class medical facility

Birmingham’s Edgbaston Medical Quarter (EMQ) has received the green light to improve the mix and medical facilities at Pebble Mill, the site of the former BBC Studios.
The application, submitted by family-owned investor and developer Calthorpe Estates, has been granted for outline planning permission to transform Building 4 at Pebble Mill into a 9,000m2 world-class healthcare facility rather than the original 5,000m2 vision first approved back in 2014.
The proposed building will be positioned between Circle Health’s new private hospital and rehabilitation centre and the Birmingham NHS Dental Hospital.
For over 30 years, Pebble Mill was the home of the BBC’s Pebble Mill Studios. Now, the area is being transformed into a the 27-acre medical development which will include leading hospitals, healthcare centres and the latest cutting edge medical facilities.
Bupa Care Homes’ 62-room care centre and the Birmingham Dental Hospital & School of Dentistry have already opened on the Pebble Mill site. Work has started on Circle Health’s new 19,000m2 private hospital and rehabilitation centre, which is due to open in Spring 2019.
Once completed, Pebble Mill will offer over 50,000m2 of medical and healthcare facilities, in addition to new food and beverage space and community access sporting amenities.
Ralph Minott, director of development for Calthorpe Estates, said: “Pebble Mill’s regeneration has been guided around excellence and the creation of jobs since the launch of the original masterplan in 2003, post the BBC. Calthorpe Estates have the capacity within this expanded proposal to now attract world-leading specialists and pioneering medical offers to Edgbaston Medical Quarter at Building 4.”
“We have received strong interest from potential occupiers for purpose-built, open plan medical facilities, which has accordingly driven our view that our proposals at Building 4 can offer more in this location.”
Located in the heart of England, EMQ is a part of Birmingham’s world-class healthcare cluster and a hub for medical excellence. Just 90 minutes from London by train with direct international flights to all major global destinations, the area has witnessed a healthcare revolution and is now home to Europe’s largest centre for focused clinical trials and 64% of the region’s healthcare economy.
As well as offering patients the latest healthcare treatment, it is also a leader in health innovation making tomorrow’s innovations become reality, today. The area also boasts a powerful group of healthcare institutions, advanced research and academic hubs, it is one of the largest center’s in the UK involved in the ‘100,000 Genomes Project’ and is a centre of excellence for both trauma and leukaemia.
Currently within EMQ there are over 180 medical organisations, 80 hospitals and specialist care centres and 44 GP clinics and routine care facilities, along with 23 training facilities.

Innovative eye researchers shortlisted for Meridian Celebration of Innovation Awards

Professor Alastair Denniston, of the University of Birmingham and University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, and his team have been shortlisted for a prestigious award celebrating the best of innovation in healthcare around the region.
Along with collaborators from City University London and Moorfields Eye Hospital, the team have been given the nod in the 'Advanced Diagnostics, Genomics and Precision Medicine Award' category of the West Midlands Academic Health Science Network (WMAHSN)’s third annual Meridian Celebration of Innovation Awards.
"We believe that our innovation could significantly improve how we care for patients with sight-threatening inflammation, a serious condition known as ‘uveitis'," explained Professor Denniston.
"We have developed a way of using existing retinal scanners to measure the level of inflammation in the eye – all in a matter of seconds. For the patient it is like having a photograph. For the doctor it should give them the confidence to make better treatment decisions, moving from old-fashioned clinical estimates, to accurate precision medicine based on an advanced diagnostic tool.
"The second phase of the trial is being led by our brilliant doctoral researcher, Dr Xiao Liu, and we are very excited to see the results."
Dr Christopher Parker, WMAHSN Managing Director, commented: “We are delighted to announce that Professor Denniston and his team have been shortlisted. This is the third year of our awards to recognise and celebrate the work of individuals and organisations across the region in delivering better health and care. All of our shortlisted entrants are answering real challenges that face professionals, patients and carers every day…" Read more.

Hospital plans at Pebble Mill given second chance

Plans for a new private hospital and research institution to be built on the site of the former BBC studios at Pebble Mill, Birmingham, have been recommended for approval for a second time.
Pebble Mill Investments is behind the latest proposals for its long-running regeneration of the site in Edgbaston, which is already home to a new dental school.
Birmingham City Council was set to vote on 24 May 2018 on whether to grant permission for the 96,875 sq ft medical complex, which will also include 167 parking spaces, but councillors decided to delay making a final decision until more information was provided.
The plans for the eight-storey building, which would face onto Pebble Mill Road and be used for research and development as well as a private hospital, will now be debated at a meeting on Thursday 21 June.
The original application was submitted in 2017 for plot four but the applicant has added a further 43,000 sq ft to the proposals since then.
Since the BBC relocated to the Mailbox in Birmingham city centre in 2003, the £50m Dental Hospital and University of Birmingham's School of Dentistry was opened in April 2016 while construction of a new private hospital by Circle Health is expected to be completed later this year.
Bupa has also opening a 62-bed care home and there will also be other leisure and retail uses including a pub and cafe and student accommodation while new sport fields have opened.
A new council document published ahead of the meeting said: "The proposed development complies with both local and national policy.
"The scale of the development proposed is considered acceptable for the site and would have no detrimental impact on neighbouring occupiers or the character and appearance of the local area…" Read the full article here.