Scotland: Ushering in the next age of life sciences

Dec 02, 2006


Ken Snowden
With continued success over the last few years, Scotland's life sciences sector is thriving and has a very promising future in sight. The country's growth in this sector can be attributed to major breakthroughs in several research areas and international partnerships. With continued advances in science, however, come several changes to the life sciences globally. Methods of diagnosing and treating diseases will undoubtedly change as a result of the sequencing of the genome and as the genetic basis of more and more diseases is revealed. The use of nanotechnology will allow more targeted drug delivery, and new technologies are allowing medical devices to be less invasive and more site-specific. Other major shifts have included increased outsourcing of R&D and the integration of pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies to meet the rise in demand of un-met medical needs more efficiently. Scotland is eager to capitalize on these global changes as many of country's strengths lie in these very areas.

Scotland's life sciences sector comprises more than 590 organizations, with nearly 29,500 employees. The country is making significant contributions to biomedical research and is already recognized as a leader in stem cell research, neuroscience, cancer research, genomics, proteomics, and bioinformatics. With a strong research base, an excellent academic community, and home to many of the world's leading experts in their respective fields, Scotland is and will continue to be a premier choice for research partnerships and global expansions.

INTERNATIONAL COLLABORATIONS




Recently, Invitrogen Corporation ( http://www.invitrogen.com/) announced that it would integrate all of its existing sites in Scotland to create a European "super-center." This facility will also be the company's European headquarters with approximately $17 million invested in its development. With its solid history of cutting edge research, a supportive life sciences cluster, and a highly qualified base of workers, Scotland was the optimal choice for Invitrogen's European headquarters.

In April 2006, another major announcement was made that will solidify Scotland's role as a leader in not only developing innovative treatments for some of the world's most debilitating diseases, but also for speeding up the process of bringing them from bench to bedside. This deal, worth approximately $95 million, was signed by Wyeth Pharmaceutical Co. ( http://www.wyeth.com/) to develop the world's first Translational Medicine Research Collaboration in Scotland. Through the use of biomarkers in monitoring the progress and response to treatments of various diseases, translational medicine allows researchers to develop new drugs more rapidly. With the participation of Scotland's four leading clinically based medical schools (Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Aberdeen), along with Wyeth, Scottish Enterprise, and the National Health Service Boards in Grampian, Greater Glasgow, Lothian, and Tayside, the magnitude of this partnership is unparalleled.

STEM CELL RESEARCH




Perhaps one of the most challenging but ultimately promising areas of study in this century is stem cell research. Scotland is already well distinguished in this field and will continue advancing the applicability of stem cells in treating several of the world's deadliest diseases.

Aside from being home to many of the top stem cell experts and having an unmatched academic environment, the country has a favorable regulatory environment, funding support from its government, and some of the most advanced research facilities in the world.

In late 2006, Roslin Cells ( http://www.roslincells.com/) was founded, a non-profit company that will be commercializing human stem cell lines. What is unique about Roslin's offering is that these human stem cell lines will be sold worldwide with unencumbered intellectual property rights, accelerating the process of developing medicines and treatments.