Web Date: September 4, 2007
Germany To Launch Drug Discovery Hub
Hamburg is staking a claim to become a leading center of European drug discovery. The German city is establishing European ScreeningPort, a company that will run a discovery service hub designed to provide the missing link in Europe between academic research and the pharmaceutical industry.
The new company is being established with the support of Germany's Federal Ministry of Education & Research, the city of Hamburg, pharmaceutical services company Evotec, and Norgenta, an agency that promotes life sciences development in the German states of Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein. Both Evotec and Hamburg have invested $2 million in the center, which will be run as a public-private partnership. The center already has raised nearly $10 million in financing and aims to be fully operating by mid-2009.
Backers say the ScreeningPort concept is simple: accelerate the translation of promising results generated in basic research on the causes of diseases into new therapeutics. Academic and research institutes will have access to its technology, libraries of chemical compounds, and sample- and data-processing capabilities. Pharmaceutical and biotech companies, in turn, can benefit from the research results generated at ScreeningPort, which can complement their own drug research.
ScreeningPort was initiated by Evotec and is being implemented by Norgenta. But planners envision the drug discovery center as becoming the heart of an international network. For example, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and the Vienna-based Institute of Molecular Biotechnology of the Austrian Academy of Sciences have said they intend to participate.
At the launch of the project in Hamburg on Sept. 3, Thomas Rachel, a member of the German federal parliament and parliamentary secretary of state at the Federal Ministry of Education & Research, noted that "ScreeningPort is an important element to close the gap between basic research and the commercial development of new therapeutics."
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