Updated on 17 May 2012
Mr Abela: The collaboration aims to investigate the potential of compounds produced by local microorganisms (natural products) as active ingredients for innovative medicines for treating diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart and tropical diseases.
What is the plan for the future?
Dr Kirtikara: As BIOTEC a responsible organization in Thailand in the field of biotechnology, we are committed to building the nation's research capability in this field. In addition, we aim to be a leader in the field of microbial utilization and management in the region. Both Novartis and BIOTEC are working closely to bring out fruitful results to demonstrate the value of natural products from microorganisms.
What were the hurdles on the way of the partnership and what steps were taken to overcome them?
Mr Abela: The BIOTEC and Novartis Drug Discovery Partnership focuses on exploring Thailand's biodiversity for compounds that may serve as new and better medicines to address unmet medical needs. New medicines do not appear overnight. The interface of the chemical, biological, and pharmacological universes is highly complex. On an average, it takes approximately 14 years and a budget of $1.7 billion to develop one medicine. The R&D process is full of risk, uncertainty and takes time. Therefore, the perspective on success should be long-term. We cannot guarantee what we will achieve and when it will happen. The important thing is to make progress.