PIONEERING biotech firm Oxford BioMedica will develop revolutionary new drugs at its new £3m manufacturing plant in Cowley.

The company, founded in 1995 by Professors Alan and Susan Kingsman, from Oxford’s University’s department of biochemistry, has won permission from the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulations Agency to produce drugs to target cancer, diseases of the central nervous system and the eye.

Now it has moved into the new plant in Transport Way, with clinical trials under way.

The approval could lead to the lives of millions of sufferers with conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone disease, prostate cancer and chronic glaucoma being improved, as well as helping the company to create new jobs.

Chief executive John Dawson said: “This investment brings significant potential, not only to support our current programmes and collaborations, but also to secure new partnerships and alliances.”

The company’s LentiVector gene delivery system could lead to patients receiving just one treatment for their illnesses rather than being forced to continually visit hospitals. Chief scientific officer Stuart Naylor added that if all went to plan, the first of the new drugs could be available to patients in 2018.

He said: “Opening this new facility means that we now have far greater control of the drugs’ development.”

The new gene delivery system can be used to address genetic failings and so potentially transform the outcomes of a number of devastating diseases.

A drug called ProSavin is the most advanced project to date, designed to fight the debilitating effects of Parkinson’s disease.

Another three compounds are set to report the first results of clinical trials this year and the anti-cancer drug, TroVax, a therapeutic vaccine targeting solid cancers, is now being evaluated during second phase trials.

Oxford BioMedica employs 80 staff at its 16,000 sq ft Cowley facility and at its Oxford Science Park headquarters.