ItalyItaly

'Growth’ in the midst of crisis

12.06.2011

Milan – Everyone agrees that Italy is not Greece, but it is common wisdom that the country could also be doing better. Considering the meagre growth of the Italian economy in the last decade however, data fom the 2011 survey of the country’s biotech industry should be viewed in a positive light. To start with – there are more and more firms. 221 biotech companies were counted in 2010 (2009: 215), while 2,250 staff work in mostly tiny firms. Revenues are not negligible. Italy generated EUR1.2bn in biotech turnover last year, of which 45% was ploughed back into research. “Biotechnology has become a solid industrial reality in all application areas,” said Alessandro Sidoli, President of Assobiotec. The industry outfit commissions the country’s yearly report together with Ernst & Young. This year, Sidoli’s association is celebrating its 25th birthday, and is especially eager to show that biotech is one of the all-too-few economic success stories in Italy. Even assuming absolute numbers are deceptive – nearly every country counts companies, revenues and other key indicators in different ways – it is clear that in Italy, the sector is growing and providing high-level jobs. A parallel to other countries is the prevalence of red biotech. 185 dedicated companies are operating in the field. And although an Italian bio­pharmaceutical has yet to reach market, there is a notable pipeline: 64 products are in pre-clinical testing there, with 21 in Phase I, 26 in Phase II and 13 in Phase III. Rare diseases are a speciality. Last year saw a 10% increase in the number of Italian Orphan Drug Designations obtained by European and US regulatory authorities, even though just 1.2% of Italy’s GDP was invested in research in 2010 and the percentage of government researchers dropped from 19.9% in 2003 to 16.9%, according to OECD figures. Italian researchers are holding out, and in areas like cancer or neurodegenerative diseases they still are globally competitive. The elephant in the room in Italian bio­technology remains the absence of capital. Ernst & Young cites investments of just a72m in 2010 – with VC, private equity and IPOs counted together. That’s an increase of 27% compared to 2009, but still embarrassingly small for a large economy. And the tide doesn’t seem to be turning in 2011. With the postponed IPO of cancer specialist Philogen in February, Italy’s red biotech scene has to produce a major news announcement this year.

ItalyItaly

07.03.2012

Toscana Biomarkers S.r.l has entered the market for biomarkers with its first diagnostic kit. In late January, the company from Siena signed a licence agreement with DIESSE Ricerche S.r.l, based in Genoa. DIESSE will produce and...

ItalyItaly

07.03.2012

Italian researchers have reprogrammed neonatal cardiomyocytes into iPSCs that can re-differentiate toward CMs more efficiently than either cardiac fibroblast-derived iPS cells or even ES cells. (Cell Death Differ.,...

ItalyItaly

09.01.2012

Rome – A cold virus isolated from chimpanzees might work as an vector for human vaccines. Adenoviruses are principally suitable as vectors for vaccines for their ability to induce strong immune responses. But as most humans have...

ItalyItaly

16.12.2011

Milan/Turku – Italian drug developer Newron SpA has had a roller-coaster ride in the last few months. First Merck Serono decided to drop its stake in the company’s Parkinson’s Disease candidate salfinamide, and returned the...

ItalyItaly

15.12.2011

Genoa/Irvine – Researchers from the universities at Genoa and Irvine (US) have patented a new compound that blocks removal of the endo­cannabinoid painkiller anandamide from the synaptic space by a selective transport system....

ItalyItaly

01.10.2011

Parma/Baranzate – Chiesi Farmaceutici Spa has said it will lengthen its long-term collaboration with NiKem Research, which is focused on developing treatments within the respiratory therapeutic area. The two drug developers have...

ItalyItaly

01.10.2011

Milan/Turku – Biotie Therapies ASA’s announcement that it had signed an agreement to acquire Newron Pharma­ceuticals S.p.A. for €45m is both good and bad news for the Italian biotechnology sector. While Italy is losing one of its...

ItalyItaly

19.08.2011

Como – Shares in Gentium SpA lost about a third of their value on Thursday after The Italian biopharmaceutical company withdrew a marketing application for its drug Defibrotide being used against complications related to stem...

ItalyItaly

01.08.2011

Milan/London – Italy’s MolMed SpA has signed a deal with UK-based pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline to develop a production process for a gene therapy against the rare ‘bubble boy disease’. Over the next two years, GSK will...

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