Newsletter View

Newsletter February 2011


In Partnership with Pfizer

Dr. Andreas Persidis, CEO of Biovista, talks about a new agreement the Greek company has signed with Pfizer.

In late 2010, Biovista signed another agreement with Pfizer, the largest pharmaceutical company in the world, to carry out drug repositioning programmes. What are the ramifications of this agreement for a company such as Biovista?

Drug Repositioning is an emerging field within the broader life sciences industry. As such, there is a need to educate the market to this approach and to illustrate its potential to those who may be skeptical about its ultimate utility. As with all innovations, there are always the ‘early adopters’ who are willing and able to try new things first. Pfizer has been one of the first to embrace this approach and naturally helps legitimise drug repositioning in the minds of many practitioners. Like other large pharma corporations, it is facing the by now famous ‘patent cliff’ as well as the lower than expected returns from other promising technologies of the genomic era, both of which translate into dwindling revenues as we move forward. The pressure is therefore on all industry players to identify new ways of bringing new and better therapies to the market. It goes then without saying that agreements such as this work in the direction of increasing market awareness, which in our view can ultimately only help everyone involved, from Biovista, to other pharmaceutical and biotech companies, and most importantly patients themselves. It is also important to note that the underlying technology that makes this possible has been developed in Greece which goes to show that in the right context, Greek scientists and companies can produce world class products and services that define the state of the art and are competitive in the global markets. The Hellenic state is beginning to recognise the importance of such capability by a number of SMEs to the national balance of trade and has already taken what we think is appropriate action. The recently announced incentives and ‘investment law’ are steps in the right direction that we believe will free the significant human resources that are willing and able to create value at the global level.
Biovista has become a trailblazer, both in testing for adverse events and in drug repositioning, both highly sophisticated and demanding fields. Does Greece offer qualified human resources to a company like Biovista?

Obviously yes, since Biovista’s technology platform has been developed by Greek scientists. It is widely accepted that Greece’s human capital is amongst the top in the world. What we need to do more of as a nation and as companies is to ensure that we offer fertile and worthy fields of endeavor for these talents to blossom. For example, we all agree that as one’s needs in specialist areas increases, finding collaborators with the right experience can still be a challenge. In our case for example, finding corporate attorneys or drug development experts with world-class experience in drug related IP and handling IND applications has so far been impossible. However I am optimistic; the government has declared that exports and innovation is a top priority and has begun taking concrete measures that create an environment that is much more in sync with new needs of innovative and export oriented companies like Biovista.

Biovista is a drug repositioning company established in 1993 with offices in Athens, Greece and Charlottesville VA, USA. Biovista's repositioning programmes leverage the company's technology platform to identify suitable drugs and reposition them in isolation or in combination with other drugs to therapeutic areas that are currently not covered by existing products. By selecting drugs that already satisfy basic toxicity, ADME and related criteria, Biovista is able to deliver significant value at reduced cost and in dramatically shorter time frames than is normally the case. The company has initiated its own drug repositioning efforts in the CNS area with positive animal model results in MS and epilepsy. In addition to its pipeline, the company uses its platform technology to offer clinical outcomes services to organisations such as the FDA, pharmaceutical and biotech companies such as Pfizer and Biogen Idec as well as major academic institutions in the US and Europe.