Large investment: Production of TUT researchers’ cancer drug comes to Tehnopol
The production of endometrial cancer drug candidate Virexxa, part of the project portfolio of the Competence Centre for Cancer Research (CCCR), will be organised in Estonia by AS Kevelt, for which the owners are spending EUR 8 million to upgrade their company's drug production unit.
According to CCCR Director Riin Ehin, at the end of April the international biological drugs and diagnostics company OPKO Health invested EUR 46 million in Pharmsynthez, the parent company of CCCR’s partner AS Kevelt. The current owners also invested an additional EUR 20 million. The EUR 8 million will be used to upgrade AS Kevelt’s drug production unit, in which the production of drugs for the European and US market will begin.
“Cooperation between Pharmsynthez and CCCR can be compared to Skype, since development activity and future production will take place in Estonia. Estonia was selected as the location for drug manufacturing due to the strong level of cooperation between the public and private sectors in cancer research and drug development," noted Ehin.
According to her, investors have also recognised the efficient and well-structured operation of CCCR, excellent understanding of new paradigms in drug development, and the capability to bring a scientific discovery to the point of innovation. AS Kevelt and CCCR are also working together on another drug candidate – Oncohist – intended for the treatment of acute myeloid leukaemia.
Virexxa is a potential drug candidate for the treatment of stage four endometrial cancer. There is currently no specific treatment for the disease, which affects 25 000 patients annually in Europe. Virexxa drug trials have been quite successful and the market potential ranges from EUR 600 million to EUR 1 billion. The potential is also great for Virexxa on the US market.
Established in 2005, CCCR currently has 14 projects in development, with financing provided by Enterprise Estonia, Archimedes Foundation and CCCR's 14 partners. The latter includes the Tallinn University of Technology, the North Estonia Medical Centre Foundation, the University of Tartu, as well as biotechnology, drug development and organic synthesis companies from Estonia, Sweden, the United States and Latvia.