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Novartis opens new research centre in Britain

The Swiss healthcare giant, Novartis, has opened the world's largest single facility research centre into respiratory problems. The centre, which is located in Horsham in southeast England, cost SFr100 million ($60 million) to build.

The new laboratories are able to accommodate 180 scientists and about 20 support staff. Novartis says it will be a think-tank to find cures for conditions such as asthma.

"The major focus will be to discover and develop the next generation of treatments for patients suffering from respiratory diseases," Marie-Francoise Rutimeyer, spokeswoman for Novartis, told swissinfo.

"We know that asthma will be one of these, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease," she said.

The number of people suffering from respiratory diseases is set to double over the next two decades, according figures released by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

"WHO figures show that nearly 150 million people are affected by asthma today," said Rutimeyer. "Estimates show that in less than 20 years this number might double so the condition is very prevalent."

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is the fourth leading cause of death in the developed world, Rutimeyer said, and in light of the statistics, Novartis believes new treatments are needed.



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