A clean future: Working to decarbonise the healthcare industry

Dr Laurence Stamford, a Senior Lecturer in Sustainable Chemical Engineering at the University of Manchester is working to propel the UK into a leading role in sustainability in the healthcare sector.

The healthcare industry recently recognised the importance of decarbonisation with the NHS Net Zero plan and the Health and Care Act 2022, both of which commit to a healthier future for
everyone. Funded by the Innovation Launchpad Network+, Laurence will be working with the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult to identify the environmental impact of the adeno-associated virus (AAV) production process, analysing the process at scales of up to 50 litres.

“The best way to ensure that healthcare and environmental sustainability are aligned is is to consider the full cradle-to-grave system and to incorporate environmental life cycle assessment (LCA) into the development process of treatments and their associated technologies,” said Laurence. “My key aim is to establish a long-term collaboration (including other academics, commercial entities and Catapults) to place the UK as a leading voice in sustainability for the sector. This will start by conducting the first LCA of its kind, and embedding the process into the Cell and Gene
Therapy Catapult’s operations.”

Once the life cycle assessment (LCA) is complete, recommendations can then be given to the therapy developers on how to modify their manufacturing processes to minimise environmental impacts. Matthew Durdy, Chief Executive of the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult, says: “Working closely with a leading sustainability expert, we aim to understand how one aspect of the production of gene therapies, the production of AAV, impacts the environment. Analysing the environmental impact of specific steps in this process will help us identify where there may be opportunities to refine or adapt the process to make it more environmentally friendly.”

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