New meeting of the Farma-Biotech program, which brings start-ups and research groups into contact with national and international pharmaceutical companies to promote preclinical research and facilitate development
Up to eight new research projects led by small companies and by Spanish public research centers may be promoted thanks to the collaboration with pharmaceutical companies. This is what a new meeting has achieved within the Farma-Biotech program, promoted by Farmaindustria and whose objective is precisely to facilitate collaboration between research groups and the pharmaceutical industry so that promising projects in the preclinical phase do not lose the opportunity for development due to lack of support from a company with knowledge, experience and financial muscle capable of driving the long, expensive and risky R&D process of a drug.
This joint meeting project was launched by Farmaindustria in 2011 with a double objective: to promote biomedical research in Spain through the collaboration of start-ups and research teams from public or private centers with the large international decision-making centers of Biomedical R&D and accelerating the translation of new drugs from these small companies to medical practice.
“Increasingly, biomedical research is open and collaborative. In essence, the Farma-Biotech program tries to contribute to the fact that research projects that are being carried out in Spain in the field of human health may have the option of overcoming the preclinical phase and have more possibilities for development. It is the pharmaceutical companies that have the capacity to give the impetus without which most projects would have enormous difficulties in reaching the most advanced phases of clinical research. This type of collaboration is common in our sector and pays off, as we are seeing in the current research on treatments and vaccines against Covid-19 ”, says Javier Urzay, Deputy Director General of Farmaindustria.
Since the start of this program, more than 500 promising research projects have been evaluated, of which more than a hundred fit the selection criteria proposed by the program (innovative proposal of the world SCOPE, differentiated from the rest, with sufficient progress technical and industrial protection). This collaborative initiative is currently driving the progress of more than 45 new molecules that are under development and protected by patents.
The proposals presented at the last meeting, still in the preclinical phase –before the human trials-, were presented and debated between the researchers themselves and a score of large pharmaceutical companies via telematics. On this occasion, the eight selected preclinical research projects that have attracted the interest of the pharmaceutical industry are on drugs for diseases related to oncology, infectious diseases, Alzheimer’s, allergies, the cardiovascular system and rare diseases.
One of the most important characteristics of this initiative of Farmaindustria is the promotion of public-private collaboration, since, of the eight projects, six are promoted by health research institutes and public centers of excellence, such as the National Center for Cardiovascular Research (CNIC), the National Cancer Research Center (CNIO), the August Pi i Sunyer Biomedical Research Institute (Idibaps-Ciberer) or the Autonomous University of Barcelona. These projects have been presented together with research from the biotechnology companies InnoUp Pharma and SOM Biotech.
On the part of the industry, a total of 18 laboratories, both national and multinational, attended the Farmaindustria call, which previously selected the projects based on their potential so that they could represent a real opportunity for cooperation for both parties. Thus, the eight investigations have reached an adequate degree of maturity to study possible agreements with the companies.
A MODEL OF SUCCESS
After nine years of existence, the data from the Farma-Biotech program reflect the existing scientific potential in Spain in the field of biomedical research and the capacity of the innovative pharmaceutical industry to attract and advance this talent, but also the enormous difficulties that exist to turn an idea into reality in the world of new drug development. It must be emphasized that researching and developing a drug, from the preclinical phase until it reaches the patient, requires a period of between 10-12 years and an investment of close to 2,500 million euros. The high risk must be emphasized, given that only 10% of the potential drugs that manage to reach the clinical phase (in which they are already tested in patients) will one day be available to patients.
The Farma-Biotech program is part of the Spanish Technological Platform for Innovative Medicines, which has the support of the Ministry of Science and Innovation and which, together with the BEST program, aimed at clinical research, contributes to promoting the commitment of pharmaceutical companies for research in Spain. Thus, investment in the R&D sector broke a new record in 2019, reaching 1,211 million euros, almost 20% of all industrial R&D carried out in our country, according to the latest Survey on R&D Activities. D that Farmaindustria carries out among its associates.
This report also highlights how in the last decade the weight of research projects developed in collaboration with hospitals and public and private centers (extramural spending) has grown 3.6 percentage points, a chapter that represents 43.6% of the total investment of pharmaceutical companies and that translates to 528 million euros in 2019, while intramural investment (that made in the research centers of the companies themselves) exceeded 683 million euros.
Collaboration among all is essential to be able to advance in the research sector. Only by collaborating with each other will we be able to carry out promising projects