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BioAlps | 20 years of innovation | Debiopharm

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Debiopharm | We develop for patients


We are pleased to share with you our new testimonial series as part of our ecosystem’s 20th anniversary celebrations. The series aims to provide a platform for regional Life Sciences key players to present themselves, share their perspectives on the development of Western Switzerland’s Life Sciences ecosystem and their outlook on upcoming challenges and opportunities. The following article is presented to you by Debiopharm.


Presentation of Debiopharm’s activities

As a family-owned, independent company with over 400 employees, Debiopharm develops & manufactures innovative therapies and drug delivery technologies that target high unmet medical needs in oncology and infectious diseases. Through our unique business model, we bridge the gap between disruptive discovery products from academic & startup structures, and real-world patient reach through large pharmaceutical companies. We do this by identifying high-potential compounds and technologies for in-licensing worldwide, then we leverage our expertise to clinically demonstrate their safety and efficacy and then finally select large pharmaceutical commercialisation partners to maximise patient access globally.

Our 40-year track record includes 2 blockbuster therapies in oncology, triptorelin and oxaliplatin, as well as a potential 3rd standard of care therapy in Head & Neck Cancer, xevinapant, currently in late stage development.


Major Life Sciences trends and developments

Developments in Life Sciences are trending towards longer acting new drug technologies that specifically target certain tumor cells. Complementary to early discovery in-licensing activities, our internal innovation focuses on drug delivery, drug improvement and drug targeting. In drug delivery, for example, we have been very successful with the long-lasting formulations. For drug targeting, learning from our experience with naratuximab emtansine, an antibody-drug conjugate (ADC), we have developed our own proprietary technology that contribute to the building ADCs called Multilink. We also put a strategic emphasis on radiopharmaceuticals with a theranostic (therapeutic + diagnostic) approach which gives us the ability to both identify, treat and monitor patients.

Our current oncology pipeline includes cutting edge modalities including antibody drug conjugates, targeted radioligands, and small molecules. Infectious disease products include a range of narrow spectrum antibiotics from one of the rare new antibacterial drug classes, fabl inhibitors. Our aim is to continue to maximize our unique formulation and disease specific expertise to develop medicines that are not only therapeutic but curative.


Foreseeable trends and challenges in Western Switzerland and Debiopharm’s contribution

Debiopharm is a networking company. We link innovation internationally from startups and universities to the market across pharma. We usually say that “The world is our laboratory”. As about 50% of our in-licensed innovation comes from the US and a limited number from within Switzerland. We are working to adapt this to the Western region of Switzerland, by facilitating cross-collaboration between universities, university hospitals and Debiopharm in Western Switzerland along the Lake Geneva. Our recently launched IDEAL (Innovation Debiopharm Academia Leman) initiative aims to encourage the creation of a closer network between academia and Debiopharm. Innovative therapies cannot be successful without a solid Life Sciences ecosystem bringing together public institutions, private companies, and patient associations. Working hand in hand in a patient centric model will lead to tomorrow’s solutions for patients. Debiopharm is fully committed to build a strong and vibrant local Life Sciences hub in Switzerland among public institutions, universities, hospitals, and pharma companies to better leverage innovations for patients.


Future challenges in Life Sciences

Debiopharm has launched a global challenge to identify a new single-dose formulation of approved mRNA COVID-19 vaccines through the InnoCentive network of “problem Solvers.” In order to respond to the need to control the ongoing pandemic with simplified vaccine dosing, Debiopharm is employing a collaborative approach, as practiced in their business model, of leveraging the world as a laboratory of innovation. Through InnoCentive, an open innovation crowdsourcing platform, the challenge has been launched to participants around the world from various backgrounds including science, engineering and technology.


Debiopharm’s recommendations

As mentioned, through our IDEAL initiative launched this year we want to link up with universities and the world-leading teaching hospitals in Geneva and Lausanne to work together, share ideas, and provide financial and scientific support for the innovative ideas developed here. It is an opportunity for our scientists to know more about the emerging scientific technologies and help more academic people to push their ideas further via grants and support. We believe that Switzerland is a true center for innovation and that increased networking and collaboration can only build a stronger biotech economy for Switzerland that could benefit patients around the world.


Read more about Debiopharm

Read more about project IDEAL