January 1, 1970 (Vol. , No. )

Susan Aldridge, Ph.D.

Greetings from snowy Vienna, where I am representing GEN at BIO-Europe 2009. There’s lots to discover – as there are over 1,400 companies here (many of them old friends of GEN, but probably more that are completely unknown to me!). My first discovery is Mercordia, a Swedish company developing a diagnostic test for oxidised LDL. Sounds like this could be a good marker to add to a lipid panel – the clinical rationale seems strong. Next, I’m told (by Belgian consultant Thérèse Delatte) that Pharmadiagnostics is a company to watch. Why? Because they have a label-free screening technology that’s surface plasmon resonance on a nanoparticle that could be a cheap alternative to the Biacore platform. Companies that can offer innovative platforms like this are the most likely to survive today’s tough economic conditions, according to the financial experts here.

In drug discovery, Norway has extended its national bioprospecting initiative to cover Trondheim and the rich biodiversity of its fjords according to Dr Sergey Zotchev, CSO of Biosergen. Sergey is now working on seven leads from the fjords and has various collaborators in Russia (he also thinks Latvia is up and coming in Eastern Europe biotech).

Vienna is the gateway to Eastern Europe, of course. Poland is represented here by delegates from BLIRT ® (Biolab Innovation Research Technologies) who inform me that their country could become big in biomanufacturing before too long. Poland has had a difficult history, but it has a tradition of excellence in science and is now benefiting from EU money. Adam Gosiewski from BLIRT believes the UK and Poland have a lot in common and ought to be doing more together. He also thinks that the UK is being disadvantaged by not being in the Euro (something that is not going to change any time soon). As more and more countries join the currency (from the Eastern bloc) the UK will become less attractive as a bio/pharma location for currency reasons. We ought to be at the heart of Europe, but instead we are slipping backwards and letting others take the lead.

Susan Aldridge is a freelance writer for GEN. 

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