Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Science Foundation Arizona Invests to Increase Arizona Biomedical Capacity

[Source: BUSINESS WIRE] - The Critical Path Institute (C-Path), a Tucson-based nonprofit that works with the FDA and the biomedical industry to streamline the development of crucial new medicines, has been awarded a $9 million investment grant from Science Foundation Arizona (SFAz). These funds will result in better testing methods that accelerate the development of therapies for major diseases, including lung cancer, stroke, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

C-Path was formed as part of the FDA's 2004 Critical Path Initiative that called for safer and more rapid U.S. medical product development. The organization is seeking to reduce the high failure rate in bringing lifesaving new drugs to market by improving the current slow and often unreliable process, thereby saving lives and billions of dollars each year. Today, even after extensive laboratory research, only 5 percent of new medicines that enter human testing ever reach the market. C-Path plans to lift that success rate to 95 percent and shorten the process to less than three years.

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 annual cost of caring for patients with just one disease, Alzheimer's, is $150 billion, a staggering figure that is projected to reach $1 trillion, or 8 percent of today's total U.S. economy. C-Path, acting as a neutral third party between the FDA and private industry, enables the sharing of knowledge that can decrease time, costs, and failure rates in pharmaceutical product development."

The SFAz grant is expected to have a continued impact on the state's rise as a center for biomedical and pharmaceutical sector growth. C-Path has formed partnerships that include nearly all the major drug corporations in the United States and Europe. Three of the 18 companies that C-Path is working with -- Roche's Ventana Medical Systems, sanofi-aventis and Merck (through its affiliate High Throughput Genomics) -- now have major research facilities in southern Arizona.

"C-Path is the first initiative of its kind, and represents a major strategic move in positioning Arizona to be highly competitive and of interest to the global pharmaceutical community. With C-Path's success, the Tucson area has the 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.

Science Foundation Arizona (SFAz) is a public/private partnership established in 2006 that 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.

Critical Path Institute (C-Path), headquartered in Tucson, Arizona, was established in 2005 as a publicly funded, nonprofit research and education institute to enable and lead collaborations among scientists from the FDA, industry and academia. C-Path's mission is to help implement the FDA's Critical Path Initiative by developing faster, safer and smarter pathways to new medical products.

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