Thailand Center of Excellence for Life Sciences (TCELS), Ministry of Science and Technology, in partnership with the National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA), Chulalongkorn University (CU) and Mahidol University (MU) held a joint press conference to announce the collaborative project entitled “Development of Advanced Technologies for Innovative Drug Development from Natural Sources”. The project aims to spur further innovations and to create commercial potential of the breakthrough innovations on natural product drug discovery. Officiated by Assoc. Prof. Soranit Siltharm, M.D., Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Science and Technology, the MoU signing ceremony was also held to solidify the commitments.
Due to the emphasis on promoting identification of bioactive compound from natural product extracts, TCELS has initiated the project on “Development of Advanced Technologies for Innovative Drug Development from Natural Sources” under the collaborative framework between BIOTEC/NSTDA, CU and MU. The project responses to the mission on infrastructure development and human resource development which are essential to the expansion of biotechnology industry.
The event also featured a panel discussion on “Innovation in Drug Discovery from Natural Sources” by Dr. Nares Dumrongchai, TCELS’ CEO, Dr. Lily Eurwilaichitr, NSTDA’s Acting Vice President, Prof. Kiat Ruxrungtham, M.D., CU’s Vice President for Research and Innovation and Prof. Banchong Mahaisavariya, M.D., Acting President of MU.
The panel discussion started out with the fact that, in the past, drug discovery and development was a complicated and time-consuming process which could take up to 12-15 years. Significant amount of capital investment was also needed. Due to these constraints, international pharmaceutical companies have embraced an open innovation strategy which promote technology transfer and innovation through collaboration with start-ups and researchers from research institutes around the world. Emphasis is placed on discovery of new bioactive compounds from natural products. The new strategy reduces unnecessary process and capital investment from the upstream to downstream processes.
Thailand is blessed with biodiversity and natural products have long been used in Thai traditional medicine. Utilization of natural product extracts as sources of bioactive compound for new drug discovery and development will add value to the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry. A network of biotechnological and pharmaceutical experts must be established. The experts must work together throughout the entire chain of research until the products are successfully commercialized.
The event also featured exhibitions showcasing the project member institutes’ research highlights. BIOTEC showcase featured highlights on utilization and preservation of microbes and bioactive compound screening services.
Posted on 4 June 2018.