The biotechnology industry across the globe for 2015 continues to be one of the fastest growing industries in the globe. Billions of dollars in new investments have been made in drug development, R&D is being globalized more than ever before and new technologies and drug classes are moving at a fast clip through the clinic. In Taiwan though, one of the Asia’s most innovative biotechnology centers, has also made major progress and in continuing to lead the region in developing novel drugs and therapies.
With 2015 being a strong year for Taiwan’s biotechnology industry, The Biotechnician and its readers are curious to learn about what we can expect to see happen in 2016. The Biotechnician speaks with experts on Taiwan’s biotechnology, and looks through public records to predict what we can see happen in the market for 2016.
Government Focuses on Health Care and Biomedicine
A wide-ranging development plan targeting Taiwan's biotechnology-based economy is set to kick off in mid 2016, according to Premier Mao Chi-kuo Aug. The Premier said that Taiwan that the government will focus on agriculture, biomedicine, food, health care and medical instruments, which is highlighted in its 10-year initiative. The initiative will potentially expand the scale of the local bioeconomy to NT$4 trillion (US$123.2 billion) by 2026. “In conjunction with the Cabinet’s Productivity 4.0 promotion, the plan outlines a new economic development path spanning agricultural, health and industrial sectors as the nation readies for an aging society,” Mao said during a recent speech.
Pharmaceuticals will also benefit from the advances in health care services as well, Mao said. “The government is enhancing Taiwan’s presence as a global hub of new medicine R&D and value creation. By promoting vertical integration in the pharmaceutical industry, we expect to generate production value of more than NT$100 billion in five years while fostering three world-class flagship enterprises,” said Mao.
With the government support behind Taiwan’s biotechnology industry, we expect that 2016 will continue to be a year of growth of the country’s biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry, with a focus on health care, agriculture and bio-medicine.
Building The Entire Human Genome
The Human Genome Project (HGP) was an international scientific research project with the goal of determining the sequence of chemical base pairs, which make up human DNA, and of identifying and mapping all of the genes of the human genome from both a physical and functional standpoint. Up until today, due to the complexities of accomplishing this goal, it has not been completed. But perhaps the solution to this problem.
Dr. Chen-Yang Shen, Research Fellow and Deputy Director of the Institute of Biomedical Sciences at Academia Sinica, said, “The ongoing establishment of Taiwan Biobank, a national infrastructure through the recruitment and follow-up of a cohort of 80,000 individuals from the general population and a cohort of 10,000 patients with chronic diseases, will lead to the development of prediction models for incidence and progression of common chronic diseases.”
“Furthermore, whole-genome genotyping of more than 18,000 individuals and patients, and whole-genome sequencing of 2,000 individuals will be completed. All of these will result in progressive elucidation of risk factors and biomarkers, which will certainly improve disease prevention and will facilitate therapy development,” Dr. Chen-Yang Shen added.
Ye-Su Chao, the Vice President of GNTbm, told The Biotechnician that the drug development in landscape has been changing rapidly in the last few years, and will continue so in 2016.
“In recent years the biotech & pharmaceutical industry in Taiwan has put more and more resource to focus on the development of protein drug, including not only monoclonal antibody in general but also the top trending second-generation monoclonal antibody like antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) and bispecific antibody,” said Dr. Chen-Yang Shen.
“Besides the small -to medium-sized biotech companies, the domestic traditional pharma companies are willing to invest in this globally highly competitive research area. With the inspiration of global trend in new generation monoclonal antibody and its application, the overall researches in Taiwan not only cover the design of protein itself as a drug, but also the design and development of drug delivery platform with a targeting protein/ antibody. With this booming phenomenon, the landscape of new drug development in Taiwan has dramatically changed when compared to the past decade, and also the close cooperation partnership with global pharma industry in the upcoming years will be expected,” Dr. Chen-Yang Shen continued.