Updated on 17 May 2012
Mr Abela: Over the past six years of collaboration, as many as 7,200 microbial isolates and 115 pure compounds have been evaluated against a battery of drug targets from all disease areas of the Novartis research portfolio, such as infectious and cardiovascular diseases, oncology, and immunology. Many of the microorganisms have proven their ability to produce new compounds. Moreover, this cooperation has also enabled BIOTEC to automate and improve its extraction and chemical screening systems. Expertise in taxonomy and isolation of Actinomycetes, a class of bacteria known to produce relevant compounds for drug development and acquired during the partnership, also enabled BIOTEC to accumulate 6,000 more strains over the past six years. These strains are assets of Thailand and are now maintained at BIOTEC Culture Collection available for other research programs in Thailand, outside BIOTEC-Novartis scope.
What milestones have been achieved through the partnership?
Dr Kirtikara: We are pleased to see a significant know-how transfer taking place with the internship of Thai researchers at Novartis laboratories and the stint of Novartis experts at BIOTEC laboratories. Improvements on our research capability have been made in the following aspects:
The attention given to capacity building in our partnership is very unique. Therefore, the significant achievement of our partnership, in my opinion, would be recognition of this partnership as a model of biodiversity research collaboration by the international community. BIOTEC and Novartis were invited to share this experience at The International Regime Implications for Pharmaceutical Research and Development, which was a part of The 6th Meeting of the Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group on Access and Benefit-sharing held in January 2008 in Switzerland, under the auspices of Convention on Biological Diversity.
Which type of drug is the partnership focusing on?