11 September 2015

OpenBio-2015: the hopes of young men

Novosibirsk biotechnologists need 14 billion for unique vaccines

Tatiana Babushkina, Infopro54 

On October 1-2, the OpenBio open communications platform will be held for the second time at the site of the Koltsovo Science City Biotechnopark.

Conceived as an event for dialogues on finding opportunities for cooperation and joint development of science, government, business and infrastructure, OpenBio-2015 will be dedicated to discussing import substitution problems in the field of biotechnology and biopharmaceuticals.

– First of all, young scientists will discuss the problems of import substitution. A lot of products are still not produced in Russia – I will tell you a not terrible, but very important secret: the fact is that 95% of the substances of antibiotics are imported from us, and here they are only packaged. We have practically no cancer treatment drugs based on recombinant antibodies, such technologies are only being developed. We also have problems with some vaccines, because they are not produced in Russia, imported and cost very decently," Sergey Netesov, chairman of the Council of the non–profit Partnership for the Development of the innovative territorial cluster of the Novosibirsk Region in the field of biopharmaceutical technologies, described the state of affairs.

The current financial and economic situation is favorable for the development and rapid implementation of such technologies. New companies ready to produce such drugs already exist in the region and continue to appear.

– There are experimental and production sites in Koltsovo that can be expanded and similar drugs can be produced on them. In this case, Russia will be provided with its own drugs that are effective in the treatment of many classes of diseases," the scientist claims.

According to Sergey Netesov, there are already three sites for the development of biotechnology companies in the region. The first one is almost completely occupied, the rest are waiting for initiative investors who are ready to build plants for the production of biotechnological drugs. But the specialists of the Biotechnopark note that for the successful introduction of biotechnologies, the relationship of business, science and production is needed.

– Science knows the main tasks, and business suggests what will be in demand in the market, plus the government, which says which tasks are priority. Thus, we will reach significant volumes of biotechnological and pharmaceutical products for Russia. But still, we are focused on state tasks, – said Anna Trubacheva, coordinator of the Siberian Biotechnological Initiative project, director of the Center for Cluster Development of the Novosibirsk Region (GAU NSO "ARIS")

– Pharmaceuticals are not very popular with businesses, for the reason that it is a long money, a long process. As a rule, these are decades and billions of dollars, so there is a question of state support, of attracting investors to pharmaceuticals at the expense of state preferences. It is possible to participate in state contracts. To talk about the development of domestic production, there must be a two-way road: not only the investor must meet the investor halfway, but also the state to the investor with some proposals, – added Ksenia Erdman, Deputy Director of Communications of the UK Biotechnopark Koltsovo

The participants of the Siberian Biotechnological Initiative cluster are already ready to offer investors several scientific projects. The total amount of investments required for their development and implementation over 5 years is estimated by experts at 14 billion rubles.

– It is planned to launch federal targeted programs, state support programs, and federal targeted investment programs. As a result, it is planned to show up with this program at the state level, – said Anna Trubacheva.

The package of innovative projects is quite diverse: These are the production of import-substituting drugs for agriculture, the production of pharmaceuticals and diagnostics, the production of vaccines and probiotic drugs, biotechnology for forestry and plant protection, complex grain processing. There are two interregional directions: the development of aquatic resources, wild plants, land reclamation and ecology.

According to experts, the development of new drugs is the most risky and costly area of work for biotechnologists: the creation of one such novelty costs $ 100-300 million. And scientific centers do not have such funds. From this point of view, the most profitable for domestic scientists and investors is the development of import–substituting drugs with a well-known market - generics. But the region is also working on unique projects.

– There is already an example in Koltsovo when, with the help of public-private and foreign partnerships, a hepatitis A vaccine was developed and put into production. Today it is the only such vaccine in the country, – said Sergey Netesov.

The famous Scientific center of Virology and Biotechnology "Vector" has a whole vaccine program with priority drugs for development. This is a vaccine against papillomavirus infection, a vaccine against chickenpox, dangerous complications for adults, a number of bacterial vaccines: for pneumonia of unclear etiology. In addition, Vector is working on vaccines against diseases that do not threaten Russia today, but may appear on the territory of the country in the future – this is the Ebola virus and various tropical infections.

– The discovery of new infections continues, and there are three infections against which vaccines are needed, but they are not found anywhere in the world – these are hepatitis C, tuberculosis and HIV. Two of these vaccines in the "Vector" are trying to develop. There is also a whole cluster of issues that need to be resolved on drugs based on recombinant human proteins for the treatment of cancer and cardiovascular diseases," said Sergey Netesov.

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