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Antisense therapeutics scientist out to pull more big deals

Aiming for more major licensing deals like the one his company recently secured with top 20 global pharmaceutical company, Teva, is front of mind for rising Australian biotechnology star, Antisense Therapeutics Ltd (ASX code: ANP)Research Director Dr Christopher Wraight when he meets with leading industry figures in the US in May.

One of two Australian life scientists chosen from a highly competitive field of candidates for the prestigious 2008 Advancing BioBusiness Award, Dr Wraight will attend the worlds largest biotechnology meeting, the Biotechnology Industry Organisation (BIO) convention, which attracts over 22,000 delegates from around the globe.

A tailored program of meetings will also be scheduled for him with leading American players including venture capital firms, research institutes, biotechnology entrepreneurs and biopharmaceutical companies, to help build valuable international networks, knowledge and collaborations.

The Advancing BioBusiness Award is an innovative scheme by Merck Sharp & Dohme and Advance, a dynamic, diverse global community of Australian professionals overseas committed to advancing Australia and Australians.

Through the Advancing BioBusiness Award, Dr Wraight said he wants to expand important global connections for Australian science and help facilitate more international business by better understanding what US pharmaceutical companies are looking for in new drug therapies at each stage of what is typically a 10-15 year development process.

Our ultimate customer is the patient. For most Australian pharmaceutical biotechs, however, big pharmaceutical companies are the first customers we need to think about. To provide better drugs for patients we first need to build better research and development programs to attract the best commercialisation partners, Dr Wraight said.

Before they license drugs from biotechs, pharmaceutical companies scrutinise our drug R&D programs with very demanding and sophisticated due diligence processes around very long-term planning horizons. Biotechs sometimes fall at the last hurdle, failing to execute a deal because decisions taken early in their drug development program did not anticipate the future needs of their prospective partner, he said.

Dr Wraight said that establishing relationships with a range of key US decision-makers will facilitate soundconsultation throughout each stage of development to optimise eventual success at the negotiating table.

Senator Kim Carr, Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, said:

"The Advancing BioBusiness Award complements the Rudd Government's policy of promoting innovation and commercialisation in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical sector, encouraging closer links between Australian biotech and global pharmaceutical companies, and helping Australian biotechs access global supply chains."

Dr Phil Kearney, Merck Sharp & Dohmes manager for external scientific affairs, said Australia is recognised for its excellence in medical research and its vigorous and creative biopharmaceutical industry. However the number of drug development projects which reach advanced clinical development is only a quarter of what would be predicted on the basis of our output in scientific literature.

By immersing two of our top biotechnology people in successful commercial research centres in the United States, and providing them with opportunities to share their learning back at home, we aim to build a stronger Australiancapability to win in this highly competitive global knowledge market, he said.

The other recipient of the 2008 Advancing BioBusiness Award is Dr Raisa Monteiro, Research Director of DendriMed.


Contact: Jackie Crossman
Research Australia

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