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Brazil's biotech firms: From imitators to innovators in health-related products
Date:6/6/2008

economic benefits to Brazilians but also provide a compelling model for health biotech in other developing countries."

Neglected diseases and other business opportunities

Most companies interviewed report growing focus on innovative diagnostics or drug products. A number have a particular focus on developing and marketing affordable, easy to use products which address neglected diseases and other local health needs.

"What you call a neglected disease, I call a business opportunity," says Fernando Kreutz, president of Porto Alegre based FK Biotecnologia. The company produces monoclonal antibodies for various diagnostic tests while other firms such as Katal Biotecnolgica, based in Belo Horizonte, and Labtest Diagnstica, of Lagoa Santa, produce diagnostic kits suitable for small laboratories and rural settings in Brazil, a market usually neglected by large companies.

Katal is responding to Brazil's approximately 140.000 annual cases of tuberculosis by developing a $25 TB test to replace the current $150 version. It also supplies the public health system with an innovative test for screening the 25 million Brazilian men over 45 at risk of prostate cancer and has developed a test for Chagas disease that can be read by widely available equipment, removing the requirement for expensive laboratory machinery.

MRC investigators also found many private companies developing innovative therapeutics. Ach Laboratories is marketing the topical anti-inflammatory Acheflan, a natural product extracted from the Cordia curassavica plant, while Pele Nova Biotecnologia's BIOCURE is a natural latex membrane derived from the plant Havea brasiliensis for the treatment of skin lesions.

Silvestre Laboratories, of Rio de Janeiro, is marketing several drugs that have resulted from significant in-house R&D, including a treatment for burns and other skin lesions.

Notable products in the pipeline of various companies include:
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Contact: Terry Collins
terrycollins@rogers.com
416-538-8712
Program on Life Sciences, Ethics and Policy,McLaughlin-Rotman Centre for Global Health
Source:Eurekalert

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