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Potential cancer cure among first to be tested at new medicine 'factory'

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11 March 2015


One of the first medicines that will be produced for clinical tests is the potential cancer cure using lactaptin, a protein derived from human breast milk. Picture: Valery Panov

A potential cure for cancer is to be one of the first medicines tested at a new research facility that aims to produce pioneering new drugs for the 21st century.

The 'biopolymer factory', located on the site of the Institute of Chemical Biology and Fundamental Medicine in Siberia, will make small batches of experimental medicines for pre-clinical and clinical trials.

Named the Competence Centre for the Production of Pilot Batches of Biotech Products, the facility is being viewed as a major step on the way to making new global drugs.

'This is an intermediate step between science and mass production,' said Vladmir Rikhter, the deputy director of the Novosibirsk-based Institute. 'Those drugs that are successfully tested will receive a ticket to the big world.'

The factory was created as a public-private partnership with one of the largest Russian pharmaceutical holdings, Pharm-Eco, which has already invested about 50 million roubles in equipment and supplies. 

Twenty people currently work at the site, with a further 10 to be recruited. The majority of the staff are hired from the Institute itself, although one of the directors, Dr Galina Troshkova, came from Vektor, the State Research Centre of Virology and Biotechnology.

Vladmir Rikhter

Biopolymer fabric

Biopolymer fabric

 Vladmir Rikhter, the deputy director of the Institute of Chemical Biology and Fundamental Medicine (top). Competence Centre for the Production of Pilot Batches of Biotech Products or the 'biopolymer factory' (bottom). Pictures: E. Pustolyakova / Nauka v Sibiri

In the first instance the facility will produce therapeutic agents from protein, including the proteins themselves as well as nucleic acids and monoclonal antibodies. The production cycle takes place in isolated rooms, interconnected with special windows, which are maintained at a specific humidity level and pressure.

One of the first medicines that will be produced for clinical tests is the potential cancer cure using lactaptin, a protein derived from human breast milk. Last year it emerged a drug derived from the substance destroyed cancer cells in studies and there is hope it could help cope with virtually any type of the disease.

Breast milk has been found to have cancer-fighting properties in the past. In 2010, researchers at Lund University and the University of Gothenburg found that it could be used to treat bladder cancer patients.

Scientists found people with the disease released dead cancer cells in their urine after each treatment.

Experiments in Novosibirsk showed the substance in breast milk could be used to kill 40 different types of cancer. The medicine has passed pre-clinical trials so far and there are plans now to begin full clinical tests next year.

Mr Rikhter said: 'We have shown that our drug is quite effective in suppressing the growth of cancer lines in vitro and inhibiting tumour growth in vivo in animals.'

Comments (1)

Russia rocks! ;-) Id love to also hear that Phage therapies get revived again as you led the world and did such great work there too.
Laurel, Australia
31/03/2015 19:18

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