The Warsaw Voice » The Polish Science Voice » Monthly - June 3, 2015
The Polish Science Voice
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From the Publisher
"It’s all about money, honey. This saying also applies to Polish science. Many potentially groundbreaking research projects wouldn’t have gotten off the ground without hefty budgets."

In one such project, researchers from Cracow-based biotechnology company Selvita have developed a new drug for treating three types of cancer: acute myeloid leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma. The drug will soon be subjected to clinical trials, marking the first time a Polish company specializing in research on innovative drugs for use in oncology will be submitting a drug for tests on humans. The tests will show whether the new drug is effective therapeutically and safe for patients to use. The project has a budget of zl.20.1 million. Almost half of this amount, zl.9.4 million, comes from the National Center for Research and Development (NCBR). The rest is Selvita’s own contribution. The project began last July and is scheduled to be completed in April 2017.

The total cost of developing and bringing to market a new drug is too high for most Polish companies to handle for the time being. It sometimes exceeds $1 billion, including the costs of failed projects, according to Tomasz Nocuń, head of the finance department at Selvita. That’s why Selvita is looking for a partner—a pharmaceutical company that will take over the development of the drug in the final stages.

“Most of the research conducted by Polish pharmaceutical companies focuses on generic drugs, which means those for which a producer’s patent has already expired,” says Nocuń. “Our company conducts research into innovative medicines that will be protected by original patents.”

In another health-related project that required financial support, Cracow-based company Silvermedia has developed a user-friendly telemedicine system for patients to monitor their vital signs on an ongoing basis and consult their doctors remotely. The project, which started in July 2013 and ends later this year, enables patients to be screened for cardiac problems and allergies.

Silvermedia’s system, described as a modular telemedicine IT platform, enables patients, including elderly people, to interact with their doctors by taking their vital signs and sending the data off for evaluation. “We work with leading cardiologists, allergists, geriatricians, neurologists and diabetologists—professors, heads of the largest clinics, and national consultants,” says Jarosław Bułka, Ph.D., vice-president of Silvermedia. “Their authority is a guarantee of the quality of the medical solutions provided. Together we build systems to enable patients to contact their doctors from a distance. These systems also enable doctors of various specialties to work together.”

Silvermedia works with a long list of medical institutions. Its research, as in the case of Selvita, is financially supported by the National Center for Research and Development.