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27-01-2016 Building infrastructure to develop biological medicines in the South-Limburg region
A cross-border consortium, led by the University of Maastricht, will work on the establishment of innovative infrastructure for the development of biological medicines. Basic Pharma Technologies aims to fill the gap within the region Flanders-Netherlands to transform biomedical research into market-oriented development. This is a unique collaboration for the South-Limburg region, and highly contributes to its economic development.
Biological medicines are medicines containing one or more active substances, made by living organisms, like bacteria, fungi and animal or human cells. Often active ingredients in biological medicines are proteins that match with, or partially match with, human proteins. Occasionally these proteins are already present in the human body, like insulin or human growth hormone. The active ingredients in biological medicines are larger and contain a more complex structure than those in non-biological medicines. Subsequently, the production process is complicated. Scientists in academic environments are only capable of producing small quantities. However, there is also the necessity to prove the safety and efficacy of the new medicines in patient studies.
In order to successfully execute these clinical studies it is necessary to dispose of considerably higher quantities of the new medicine. And it is at exactly this point in the production process that Basic Pharma Technologies can provide the missing piece of the puzzle in the South-Limburg region. With this new infrastructure in mind, the company built several brand new cleanrooms at the Brightlands Chemelot Campus in Geleen in 2017. A cleanroom is a working environment in which all aspects of air quality are strictly regulated in order to protect sensitive products like biological medicines.
The study aiming to configure the South-Limburgian infrastructure for the development of biological medicines, is the cross-border project SKiN-HUID. Led by Maastricht University, the pharmaceutical company Basic Pharma and Maastricht University-spinoff MosaMedix, in cooperation with Antwerp University and the Flemish Institute of Biotechnology (VIB), will develop a new therapy to treat skin cancer based on a combination of biological medicines and electrical stimulation.
Goal is to enhance the efficacy of the skin cancer treatment and eventually also reduce the side effects for the patient. Among others, Professor Jean-Christophe Marine of KU Leuven, an international top scientist in the field of skin cancer, has committed himself to the project.
SKiN-HUID is funded by the Interreg V program Flanders-Netherlands, the cross-border cooperation program with financial support of the European Fund of Regional Development. Moreover, the project receives substantial support of both the Province of Limburg and the Ministry of Economic Affairs.
The cooperation project is expected to substantially contribute to the economical development of the South-Limburg region. “The infrastructure created by this project will advance the valorization of biomedical research at Maastricht University”, says Dr. Chris Reutelingsperger, Professor by special appointment Biochemistry at Maastricht University and Project Manager of SKiN-HUID. “Moreover, the optimization of the chain will stimulate innovative life science companies to establish themselves at Brightlands Maastricht Health Campus and the Brightlands Chemelot Campus.”
Harry Relouw, General Manager of Basic Pharma, foresees even broader economical consequences of the new infrastructure. “This step might also be helpful in stimulating the cross-border cooperation between different campuses in South-Limburg and for example Leuven and Aachen. When looking at it from that perspective, this region has everything it needs to develop into one of Europe’s hotspots in the field of biotechnology.”