Welcome to the final Eden Biodesign newsletter of 2006. It’s been a big year for the company with a massive step up in the scale of our business by taking on the operation of the National Biomanufacturing Centre. We have now broken through the 50 barrier in terms of staff which is a 400% increase on this time last year!
It is also the conclusion of a full year of this bimonthly newsletter. If you have any comments or suggestions on the content for next year - we’d be very grateful to receive them!
World Aids Day: 1 December 2006
The same drug therapies for the treatment of AIDS have been around for the past ten years, but recent trials in the US are bringing hope to the forty million people living with HIV throughout the world. Research into an innovative new form of gene therapy is aiming to engineer a gene that, when put into a cell, would make all of its offspring resistant to the virus.
Virxsys, a US-based biotechnology company and the University of Pennsylvania carried out a study with five patients who had their T cells removed and injected with a version of HIV. Results showed that, when put back inside infected cells, the manipulated cells interfered with the reproduction of the HIV virus. While the virus continued to break down the immune cells in the body, new immune cells could not be infected. Results also showed that the virus load in the patients remained stable or decreased whereas the T cell count remained the same or increased in four out of five patients.
On this side of the pond, Oxford BioMedica has developed a product called ImmStat, a similar gene-based therapeutic for HIV infection and Aids.
The UK’s largest biotechnology company
Vectura, the developer of inhaled medicines, has bought Innovata, the drug developer, for £130m in an all-share deal that creates the UK’s largest biotechnology company.
The enlarged group will be a UK leader in pulmonary product development, a fast-growing area of the pharmaceutical industry.
United front: UK’s public funding for drug development
Sir David Cooksey, biotechnology expert and founder of venture capital firm Advent Venture Partners, is leading a review into public expenditure on drug development and is expected to suggest the Medical Research Council should be brought together with the research and development arm of the National Health Service.
The MRC and the NHS together have £1.2bn annually to spend on R&D projects in universities and hospitals. Their combined budgets dwarf others, such as the Wellcome Trust, which this year gave away £540m for R&D projects.
It is believed that the combined resources might speed up the time it takes to develop new drugs and cut the cost of drug development. Currently a new treatment takes between 10 and 15 years to create and costs about $550m.
1 November was the official opening of the National Biomanufacturing Centre. Over 120 guests squeezed into the facility to hear speeches by Crawford Brown, Eden’s CEO, Mr Bryan Gray, Chairman of NWDA (pictured below) and also Kevin Cox, President of Avecia Biologics and Chair of NWDA’s Bionow advisory committee. Later, after a lunch in a local hotel, Aisling Burnard, CEO of the BIA, Dr Kerry Chester from UCL and Dr John Stageman from AstraZeneca described the importance of biopharmaceutical development and the pivotal role of bioprocessing.
We would again like to thank our speakers for their important contributions, all our guests for taking the time to celebrate the opening of the facility with us. We would also like to say ‘thank you’ for all the very positive feedback we have received following the event. If you were unable to attend, we have posted a copy of Crawford’s speech on our web site
It might be slightly less high profile but 1 November also saw the launch of Eden Biodesign’s new web site and a revamped web site for the National Biomanufacturing Centre. Hopefully we have also had some visitors to these as well!
In terms of operational news; following lots of work on facility validation, we are currently awaiting an inspection date for a license to manufacture investigational medicinal products and have projects for all three GMP suites waiting to start.
Eden flies the flag for small businesses...
Eden was recently delighted to discover that it has been short listed in the Sunday Times Best of British Industry Awards! Under the category of Best Small Industrial Company of the Year, the award is open to small companies with an outstanding track record over the previous year. Eden will now have to wait until the awards ceremony in February to learn if they have won the accolade of calling themselves the Best of British Industry.
View the Best of British Industry Awards shortlist