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Creative thinking to boost your product pipeline

To ensure a steady product pipeline, small life science companies need to think creatively to maximise opportunities for collaboration and partnering, says Nick Adams, Business Development Director of biotechnology company Antisoma.

Speaking today (Tuesday 31 October) at the White Rose Bioscience Forum in York, Adams encourages companies to consider both their strengths and weaknesses, and to be open to all potential collaborations to ensure a healthy product portfolio.

“My advice is: be flexible, think out the box; what you can offer as company? Think about what you’ve got, be it technology or know how, and think hard about how you can capitalise on it. The whole company can contribute to this – talk to the research group and ask what else could we do with this technology, or put with this technology, and who could we talk to that they have contacts with? You’ll be surprised how many potential opportunities are generated from this creative brainstorming.”

This advice is based on Antisoma’s own experience. The company does not have a discovery arm; most of what it does is licensed directly from academia or from other biotechs, so it has to be creative in forging the right alliances to create a thriving product pipeline.

“Preclinically our focus is biology and we have enormous expertise in this area,” says Adams. This strength is very attractive to companies whose expertise lies on the chemistry side who have products that need biology.”

Since most cancer therapies around today are derived from plants, Antisoma was very interested to hear from a company contact about a young Australian company, Ecobiotics. Its expertise lay in its knowledge of the different chemical properties of Queensland rainforest plants at various stages of the plants’ growth. Says Adams: “Ecobiotics researchers knew how to select and synthesise the chemicals from various rainforest plants, but lacked the biological expertise, cancer models and in vitro capability.”

Antisoma and Ecobiotics now have a fruitful collaboration underpinned by a simple and transparent agreement.

“No money was exchanged up front and there are no unnecessary legal complexities. They provide us with molecules that display anti-cancer properties, we test them, and all resulting data is shared. Whilst Ecobiotics owns the IP, Antisoma has the right to select up to two molecule classes each year for development. All other test results on other molecules are owned by Ecobiotics which is free to develop the molecule further or offer it to other parties. It’s a perfect solution – they have the chemistry and we have the biology.

"I liken our networking approach to creating a spider’s web down whose strands products can come, whether developed in house, through collaborations or licensed in. The more strands you have the more chance you have of getting products to feed into your pipeline,” he says.

Jo Kelly | alfa
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