West London site is growing hub for pharma and life sciences industries

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A sequencing laboratory for covid mutant monitoring has been temporarily installed at Stanhope’s Gateway East site in White City, west London, to help in the fight against the pandemic.

Stanhope along with Mitsui Fudosan and AIMCo, the Japanese developer and Canadian pension fund which between them own a majority stake in the firm, said the new monitoring facility has been set up alongside a larger installation of rapid response shipping container laboratories for covid-19 PCR testing.

It is the first time a dedicated testing and sequencing laboratory will be deployed together.

Although the UK has some of the most advanced DNA sequencing capability, sequencing of the covid genome is still limited and more capacity is needed.

The concern is that more mutations, which already been identified in South Africa, the UK and Brazil, may occur and that vaccines may not be effective on these variants.

Biotechnology company OpenCell, which has existing operations in White City, designed and manufactured the units within shipping containers with a custom workflow for covid diagnostics.

Since opening in 2017, White City Place has quickly emerged as a life science and biotech hub.

A host of companies in the sector have moved their headquarters and laboratories to the site, including Swiss pharmaceuticals giant Novartis, which has its UK headquarters there, and several life sciences firms such as Autolus and Synthace.

Stanhope is behind a huge life sciences development at Royal Street close to St Thomas’ Hospital in Southwark which it won for Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust in 2019.

The firm beat Canary Wharf Group and Landsec to the 1.8 million ft² scheme where AHMM is masterplanner, Alinea the QS and Arup the engineer.