AstraZeneca Announces Collaboration to Create Russia’s First Biobank

The Almazov Federal Heart, Blood and Endocrinology Center AstraZeneca BioFund

AstraZeneca Announces Collaboration to Create Russia’s First Biobank

Today, AstraZeneca announced the formation of collaborative agreement with leading partners in Russia aimed at addressing most prevalent health issues in the Russian population and creating conditions for the development of personalized medicine. The agreement includes the setting-up of Russia’s first research ‘biobank’, to be known as the Russian National BioService (RNBS), which will contribute to Russia’s life science infrastructure and capability.

The disease areas, which will be the focus of this initiative, include but are not limited to cardiovascular diseases and conditions of the endocrine system, such as diabetes. These diseases are the leading causes of death in the Russian population, and therefore understanding their causes in the local population, along with better diagnosis, treatment and overall disease management, are key public health priorities.

The three-party agreement, in collaboration with the RVC BioFund and the V.A. Almazov Federal Heart, Blood and EndocrinologyCenter, was announced during a ceremony to mark the signing of a Memorandum of Cooperation between the parties. The collaboration aims to combine expertise and resources to better understand socially significant diseases, and establish biomedical research enterprises in Russia such as the RNBS.

Creation of the first Russian research biobank is a nation-wide project both in scale and significance, which will be launched in the second half of 2013. RNBS will focus on ethical collection and characterisation of biological samples for research purposes; the project will also involve creation of the core laboratory facilities and the development of a large-scale national network of participating research organizations. The RNBS aims to become a robust infrastructural platform to further the development of personalized medicine.

“Innovation is at the core of everything we do at AstraZeneca. This means innovation in science and also innovation in the ways in which we operate and partner,” said Dr. Steve Yang, Head of R&D for Asia and Emerging Markets, AstraZeneca. “Also, as partnering is a central plank of our R&D strategy, we hope that this agreement will not only deliver biomedical innovation that brings benefit to patients, but that it will nurture true collaboration among equals.”

Nenad Pavletic, President, AstraZeneca Russia commented, “Russia’s potential to innovate is great but can still improve. Together with our partners, we aim to create a more effective infrastructure for biomedical research, which will contribute to the further development of Russian R&D and increase the attractiveness of Russia as a centre to conduct world-class life science research and the housing of international operations. This is aligned with the objectives of our government’s Pharma-2020 strategy to create an innovative biopharmaceutical industry in Russia.”

The agreement will provide a framework allowing each party to bring complimentary skills to harness and foster innovation:Almazov’s via its strengths and expertise in basic biomedical research and its Russian research facilities, RVC BioFund through it prowess in venture capital and direct funding and AstraZeneca via its scientific expertise and proven track record in discovery. AstraZeneca’s role within the biobank project will be to advise, counsel and transfer knowledge and expertise to help the company’s partners in Russia set-up an efficient, ethical world-class operation. “This landmark event today will facilitate important future research in the critical areas as cardiovascular diseases and endocrinology” said Professor Yevgeny Shlyahto, Head of the Almazov Center. “As one of the largest federal scientific and medical centers in the Russian Federation, we are proud to be a part of a collaboration to develop and foster innovation for the benefit of Russian patients and people.”

Egor Beketov, Head of RVC BioFund, who will lead the investment stated, “We are considering the opportunity to make a significant investment into the RNBS project, as it fully corresponds with RVC BioFund objective — to facilitate creation of high-technology biomedical companies through mechanisms of venture investments. We are confident that this project will be a valuable scientific asset and an effective business structure which will, in turn, attract further investments from companies globally. We expect the wide range of potential clients of RNBS, including pharmaceutical, diagnostic and biotechnological companies, as well as contract research organizations”.

This collaboration is the part of AstraZeneca’s broader commitment to contribute to Russia for Russian patients. The contribution will total in $1.2 bln investment in the next 4 years, which includes R&D and manufacturing investments, combined with the growing operational sales and marketing capabilities and an increased clinical research focus in Russia.

About The Almazov Federal Heart, Blood and Endocrinology Center

Based in St Petersburg, Russia The Almazov Federal Heart, Blood and Endocrinology Center is a leading cardiovascular and endocrine disease center with over 155,000 out-patients and ~19,000 in-patients treated per year. As a leading international research institute it collaborates with world renowned centres such as the Karolinska Institute, Sweden, Yale University, the USA, the University of Strasbourg, France and Heidelberg University in Germany.

About RVC BioFund

In June 2010 the Board of Directors of RVC approved the conceptual framework of RVC BioFund. In early 2011, the fund started its operations. RVC BioFund’s focus covers innovative biopharma companies and service companies providing contract, laboratory, analytical and consulting services to biotech, pharmaceutical and medical companies.

About AstraZeneca

AstraZeneca is a global, innovation-driven biopharmaceutical business with a primary focus on the discovery, development and commercialisation of prescription medicines for gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, neuroscience, respiratory and inflammation, oncology and infectious disease. AstraZeneca operates in over 100 countries and its innovative medicines are used by millions of patients worldwide. AstraZeneca is among Top 12 pharmaceutical manufacturers of prescription drugs in Russia.

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