Science Foundation Arizona Invests to Increase Regional Biomedical Capacity

November 19, 2008

By hammersmith

[Source: SFAz] – Science Foundation Arizona (SFAz), an Arizona nonprofit, private/public partnership helping strengthen the state’s research infrastructure to spur new technology sector growth, awarded a $9 million investment grant to the Critical Path Institute (C-Path), a Tucson-based nonprofit coalition that works to streamline and accelerate the development of crucial drug therapies for major diseases including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

C-Path was formed as part of the FDA’s Critical Path Initiative of 2004 calling for safer and more rapid U.S. drug development. The organization is seeking to reduce the high failure rate of bringing lifesaving new drugs to market along with the billions in excess dollars spent each year in the current bottleneck process. Today, only 5 percent of new medicines entering clinical testing ever succeed; C-Path plans to lift that success rate to 95 percent saving significant dollars and lives.

Globally, the need for efficiently introducing new pharmaceuticals is urgent. “Without breakthroughs, we face a medical tsunami of healthcare costs posing immense economic and social threats,” stated Dr. Raymond L. Woosley, C-Path’s president and CEO. “In the United States alone, the cost of coping with one debilitating disease, Alzheimer’s, is $170 billion and is projected in the near future to reach $1 trillion or 8 percent of today’s total U.S. economy. C-Path acts as the neutral third party between the FDA, private industry and the public resulting in decreased time, costs, and failure rates in pharmaceutical product development.”

In southern Arizona, the SFAz grant is expected to have a continued impact on the state’s rise as a center for medical and pharmaceutical sector growth as industry collaborators are slated to match an additional $18 million over four years. Three of the fifteen companies that C-Path has partnered in this consortium including Roche Ventana, Sanofi-aventis and Merck – through its affiliate High Throughput Genomics – now have major research facilities in southern Arizona. In addition, C-Path has formed alliances that include nearly all the major drug corporations in the United States and Europe.

“This initiative is the first of its kind in the U.S. and represents a major strategic move in positioning Arizona to be highly competitive and of interest to the pharmaceutical community. With C-Path’s success, the Tucson area, in particular, has potential to increase substantially its biomedical capacity with innovation, spin-off companies and a growing base of knowledge workers,” added Dr. William C. Harris, president and CEO of SFAz.”

(SFAz), established in 2006, supports communications technology, sustainable systems including renewable energies, and biomedical infrastructure development to capitalize on the state’s growing research base by spurring business opportunities, attracting investment, and creating new technology sector growth.

Tim Bee, Arizona State Senate President summarized the impact of the grant, “C-Path is providing the infrastructure and scientific expertise to provide a faster and less expensive pathway to market for crucially important drugs. And, this benefits not only Arizonans and the state’s economic diversity, but helps a lot of people in combating diseases around the world.”