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From the Publisher
April 30, 2014   
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“We want to manufacture our products in Poland... Poland has an excellent business climate. The quality of services has improved, while the costs are still lower than abroad.” Now that’s a line we’d like to hear more often. It comes from Anna Waszkielewicz, a researcher at the Jagiellonian University’s Medical College in Cracow and a coordinator of a project that aims to develop a range of chemical compounds that may be used to produce a new drug for neuropathic pain and epilepsy.

The Cracow project involves research into “an innovative group of compounds with a stabilizing effect on cell membrane potential”—a mysterious-sounding bit of scientific jargon that means, in effect, that life for patients suffering from epilepsy and those afflicted by pain may become easier.

The project is the result of two decades of collaboration between the Jagiellonian University’s Medical College and the U.S. National Institutes of Health in research into antiepileptic drugs. This includes research into neuropathic pain, says Waszkielewicz. She adds that the project has resulted in several patent applications. “We have two applications for Europe, one for the United States, and three for Poland,” she explains. “In addition, we have secured patent protection in the European Union, in the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China), and on the markets in Japan, Canada and South Korea—they cover a large part of the global pharmaceutical market. The patents are for the composition and structure of the chemical compound as well as the method with which it is obtained and its use in treatment.”

When will the new drug hit the market? It will take some time, Waszkielewicz admits, while adding, “We have drawn up the plan, calculated the budget and are in talks with investors.”

Meanwhile, in another project involving a new drug, a group of Warsaw researchers has teamed up with a pharmaceutical retailer to develop a new generic drug for osteoporosis. The project promises cheaper treatment for patients because the new drug will be less expensive than those already on the market, the scientists say.

The new drug is being developed by a research consortium established by the Pharmaceutical Research Institute in Warsaw and Warsaw-based company Pol-Nil. The project has been financed by the National Center for Research and Development (NCBiR) to the tune of more than zl.2.2 million. The consortium hopes to go international with the new drug, eyeing several European markets.

Osteoporosis is a disease of the bones. It causes bones to lose their density and leads to an increased risk of them being broken. The disease predominately affects women over the age of 50. The project’s coordinator, Prof. Łukasz Kaczmarek, director of the Pharmaceutical Research Institute, says the lower costs of the new drug will encourage more patients to undergo treatment. As a result, many patients will no longer be forced to give up their professional careers and consequently the burden on their family budgets as well as treatment costs borne by the government will be smaller, Kaczmarek says. He adds that the new drug should be available to patients in two to three years.
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