iMATCH                                                                                                                 (Innovate Manchester Advanced Therapy Centre Hub)

iMATCH (Innovate Manchester Advanced Therapy Centre Hub) is a Manchester-based consortium focused on scale-up of activity in ATMPs, aiming to improve access to ATMPs for patients, while ensuring their efficient and safe delivery.

iMATCH is made up of The Christie, Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, Northern Care Alliance Foundation Trust, The University of Manchester, and nine commercial partners (AgenTus, Aptus Clinical; AstraZeneca, Cytiva, Instil Bio (UK), Chaucer Life Sciences, Datatrial, Formedix and Christie Pathology Partnership (CPP)).

The objectives of iMATCH consortium are to maximise patient access to ATMPs through integration of sample collection; development of electronic sample traceability and tracking systems utilising novel digital implementation. Through innovative systems of clinical data capture we will increase the knowledge and safety of these complex treatments. We will develop education materials to prepare our NHS staff to give the understanding required for working with these ground-breaking treatments and sharing best practice across the industry and NHS. The project was awarded almost £7M of funding from Innovate UK, has been running since March 2018, and is now delivering change and innovation within Manchester and beyond

Leadership team

Dr Fiona Thistlethwaite
Dr Fiona Thistlethwaite
iMATCH Director

Dr Fiona Thistlethwaite is a Christie NHS Foundation Trust Consultant and iMATCH director with active clinical trials research portfolio of early phase trials in particular immunotherapy. Her research focuses on how the immune system can be harnessed against cancer, in particular using adoptive cell transfer of T-cells activated against cancer antigens.

Claire Howard
Claire Howard
iMATCH Project Coordinator
Vicky Sheard
Vicky Sheard
iMATCH Programme Manager

Our partners

The Christie NHS Foundation Trust

Treats over 60,000 patients with cancer each year and is the largest single-site cancer centre in Europe. The Christie serves both the local population across Greater Manchester and Cheshire of 3.2 million people and patients referred from across the UK. As well as housing the world’s largest early phase clinical trials unit, it became the first UK centre to be officially accredited as a comprehensive cancer centre. The Christie also has its own School of Oncology (the first of its kind) enhancing the education and knowledge of healthcare professionals across the country.

Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust

Is one of the largest acute Trusts in the UK. Located within MFT are the Paediatric and Adult Haematology and Bone Marrow Transplant Units, who collectively perform approximately 180 transplants per year.  The units have a strong research track record which includes clinical experience in CAR-T cell therapy; two trials are currently recruiting patients. The Paediatric Unit is a centre of expertise for metabolic diseases, which is a growth area for HSC gene therapy (Phase I/II trials of autologous HSC-GT are funded and will start in Manchester in 2018).

Northern Care Alliance Foundation Trust

Joined the iMATCH network 2021! Colleagues at The Manchester Centre for Clinical Neurosciences (MCCN) and the Brain Research Centre are working towards the delivery of advanced therapy clinical trials and bring a wealth of neurological expertise to the Consortium.

Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (STH) joined iMATCH in 2022. They were selected as an approved wave 3 NHS CAR-T delivery centre in 2018 and grow our network driving to accelerate access to advanced therapies.

The University of Manchester (including digitalECMT)

Is one of the largest universities in the UK with an annual turnover of £500 million, over 9000 staff and 30,000 students (of which 7500 are postgraduate students). There are hundreds of specialist research groups undertaking teaching and research of international significance and houses the University of Manchester Clean Room.  The University’s research ‘beacons’ are examples of pioneering discoveries, interdisciplinary collaboration and cross-sector partnerships that are tackling some of the biggest questions faced by society and cancer is one of the five beacons.

AgenTus UK Ltd

AgenTus Therapeutics is focused on the discovery, development, and commercialization of breakthrough “living drugs” to advance cures for cancer patients.  At AgenTus, our plan is to move rapidly to the forefront with powerful adoptive cell therapy platforms that offer competitive advantages over current approaches, based on unique target, receptor, and cellular platforms.  AgenTus employs naturally-derived and engineered receptors, specifically T Cell Receptors (TCRs) and Chimeric Antigen Receptors (CARs), designed to supercharge human immune effector cells to seek and destroy cancer.  AgenTus also aims to advance adoptive cell therapy formats which would enable off-the-shelf living drugs.

Aptus Clinical Ltd

Is a niche contract clinical research organisation focussed on oncology, rare diseases and ATMPs.  The Aptus team are dedicated drug development professionals with extensive industry experience and a proven track record in the design, conduct and delivery of innovative drug development programmes.

AstraZeneca Plc 

AstraZeneca, as joint partner and key collaborator in the iDecide programme, which is currently being delivered through the digital Experiential Cancer Medicine Team (digitalECMT) at CRUK MI, will contribute to the development of a Decision Support System (DSS) to support clinical interpretation and utilisation of cytokines and other clinical data in predicting patients who will develop a cytokine storm secondary to immunotherapy. The DSS will adopt a data centric approach combined with clinical logic, to create algorithms to highlight risk in patients.


Specialises in the development and supply of consumables and equipment for cryopreservation. In April 2017 Asymptote was acquired by GE Healthcare as part of their Cell Therapy division. Asymptote will deliver a validated liquid nitrogen free end-to-end supply chain from manufacturing to patient delivery, applicable for both autologous and allogeneic ATMP treatments.  This will reduce the cost of the supply-chain infrastructure necessary, which could be rolled out to other cell therapy centres.

Instil Bio (UK) (formerly Immetacyte)

Is a clinical stage immunotherapy company focused on using patients’ own T cells – Tumour Infiltrating Lymphocytes (TIL) to fight solid tumours. TILs are at the centre of Instil Bio’s product portfolio and our next-generation products leverage our understanding of TILs as we develop therapies that have potentially better efficacy, further IP, milder pre-conditioning regimens and finer control. We manufacture TIL therapies at our GMP facility using our proprietary process. Our modular facility is capable of rapid and low-cost scale-up and scale-out. TIL will provide an exemplar cell therapy to validate the tracking, clinical and logistics systems being developed as part of the project.

Chaucer Life Sciences

Is a consulting organization focused on delivering data driven change within Life Sciences and Health organizations. Chaucer bring a team of professionals with experience of drug development operations and technology to support the innovative use of data in life sciences.

Datatrial Ltd

Is a ‘Software as a Service’ company based in Newcastle upon Tyne with over 15 years’ experience collecting and managing data from clinical research.

Formedix Ltd

Is a leading supplier of clinical trial automation software and services based on standards developed by Clinical Data Interchange Standards Consortium. Companies using Formedix software coupled with end-to-end clinical data standards from form design through to submissions have seen a 70% reduction in the time and cost of both study set-up and dataset conversions.

The Christie Pathology Partnership LLP (CPP)

Is a joint venture between The Christie NHS Foundation Trust and Synlab which provides pathology services to support the routine and specialist work undertaken both at the Christie and within the North West region. Synlab is a large provider of Pathology services across Europe. CPP will support this bid by providing expertise in the handling and storage of cellular products.


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