Slashing the time it takes for new medicines to reach consumers and improving scientific discovery in Australia are top of the agenda for leading biotechnology scientist Dr Michael Crouch when he meets with key industry figures in the US in May.
Dr Crouch was selected from a highly competitive field of candidates for the prestigious 2009 Advancing BioBusiness Awards, which will see him attend the world’s largest biotechnology meeting, the Biotechnology Industry Organisation (BIO) convention, which attracts over 22,000 delegates from across the globe.
A tailored program of meetings will also be scheduled for Dr Crouch with top American players including pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, universities and research institutes, to help build valuable international networks, knowledge and collaborations.
The award is an innovative scheme by leading pharmaceutical company Merck Sharp & Dohme and Advance, a dynamic, diverse global community of Australian professionals overseas committed to advancing Australia and Australians.
Dr Crouch is the Chief Scientific Officer for Adelaide-based TGR BioSciences, world leaders in the creation of assay, or test, technologies for the global drug discovery market.
Developing new medicines requires pharmaceutical companies to test millions of drug compounds to see if they are potentially effective – a process which in the past has been slow and laborious said Dr Crouch.
“Our assays are helping important new drug therapies make it to market much faster through state of the art technology that substantially increases testing efficiency,” he said.
The company’s unique range of cell-based tests has reduced operator input by allowing testing to be automated with robots. This faster approach has seen them secure business with pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies as well as public sector research laboratories throughout the world.
Through his award win, Dr Crouch is hoping to advance his contacts so he can better understand the needs of the industry including how pharmaceutical companies select drug targets, what they would like to see in a new assay approach and how they make decisions on which technologies to use.
Dr Crouch said he would like to explore potential new partnerships with global players to develop tests to measure bio-markers of various diseases which will be of great benefit to researchers in Australian university laboratories and research institutes.
“Research in such facilities is currently very slow and manual. The creation of automated assays that can determine bio-makers of diseases such as cancer will substantially improve their level of scientific discovery,” he said.
Dr Phil Kearney, manager for external scientific affairs at Merck Sharp & Dohme, 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 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 strong Australian capability to win in this highly competitive global knowledge market,” he said.
Dr Crouch will travel to Atlanta, Georgia for the BIO International Convention which will be held from May 19-21.
Sourced from: www.msdaustralia.com.au