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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in drug delivery
I recently attended the World Open Innovation Forum 2013 in Amsterdam, organized by Fleming Europe. The event was attended by senior executives, business leaders, university administrators, and more. The topic of the conference was the increasing use of open innovation (OI) business models in the pharmaceutical industry.
There were a number of very interesting presentations from both sides of the industry-academia partnership business model. It was possible to summarize a few key points. First, the pharmaceutical and biotech industries have now embraced (mostly) the OI business model. Most have platforms in place to capitalize on more open partnership models. Most of the speakers from industry pointed to the main benefits of OI, from their point of view. These include: sharing the risk (and the reward) in developing novel drug targets, leveraging the expertise of thought leaders from academia, and quickly developing new programs in interesting therapeutic areas. Some of the drawbacks of the OI model are that: it is difficult or nearly impossible to measure the success or failure of these OI initiatives, there are sometimes contentious issues with regard to IP and ownership, and the clash of cultures between industry and academia can challenge even the best intentioned public-private partnership.
The speakers also had similar views on best practices for developing and maintaining productive public-private partnerships. First. it is important that an organization have support for OI initiatives from the very top. Unless organisations buy into the benefits of OI, the OI initiatives can be difficult or impossible to sustain. Second, both partners (industry and academia) need to know what they want out of the partnership; and, they need to develop a framework to address needs of both stakeholders. Third, both parties should be realistic and flexible. There is no one-size-fits-all template for OI - every industry-academia partnership is different. At the same time, universities need to be aware of the realities of the needs of industry, and vice versa.
Perhaps the most important take-home message is that these partnerships need to be nurtured and developed - they don’t simply happen, and they can wither from inattention and poor management. At CDR, we appreciate this message, and we are acting on it. My main role is to help industrial partners to understand what we and the Faculty of Pharmacy (and the University of Helsinki more broadly) can offer them in terms of partnership. Then, to help develop and nurture innovative partnerships that do form - with needs of BOTH industrial and academic partners in mind.
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At the Centre for Drug Research (CDR), University of Helsinki, Dr. Alex Bunker leads the Computational Nanomedicine Group. In his research, he applies molecular modelling as a tool in nanoscale drug delivery research, known as "nanomedicine". A particular focus of his group is the PEGylated liposome, and he has modelled its surface in the bloodstream with molecular dynamics simulation. The same way that a map can be used to represent a country, he and his team have simulated a flat slab of the membrane of the liposome.


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In a landmark decision, the U.S. Supreme Court has unanimously ruled that human genes cannot be patented because they are "products of nature." This sets an important precedent for the biotech industry, and especially those organizations engaged in diagnostics based on naturally occuring human gene sequences. For example, Myriad Genetics (the company which developed the groundbreaking genetic testing for BRCA mutations linked to cancer) has had 5 of their patents invalidated as a result of this ruling.

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Research project: Bioconjugated polymeric nanomaterials for industrial applications

Controlled synthesis and self-assembly of polymer-based bioconjugates will provide  broad array of novel biomaterials for industrial applications (drug delivery, molecular imaging, diagnostics, sensors, cell biological research tools). Despite its vast potential, the technology of bioconjugated polymers and nano materials is an under-developed nanotechnology field in Finland that needs to be improved. The project will generate an industrially applicable technology platform of bioconjugated polymeric nanostructures. The research involves versatile synthesis and testing of nanomaterial libraries. The program will be carried out in close collaboration with industrial partners, and special attention is paid to the generation of relevant intellectual property. The project will also be linked to the academic community in Finland, beyond the immediate project participants. This project will generate a platform of new polymer-based bioconjugated nanomaterials and relevant test methods for industrial applications. Companies from various fields are integral participants in the project, and the CDR is also participating through the research activities of Professor Arto Urtti.

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