(Yicai Global) Oct. 12 -- China should make breakthroughs in basic research to develop new medicines, according to a member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
China has shortcomings in developing new drugs, Chen Kaixian, an academician at the Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica under the CAS, said in an exclusive interview with Yicai Global during the International Biopharma Industry Week Shanghai 2021. "We have not been paying enough attention to basic research and thus lag far behind other countries."
The process requires changing work methods. "Many new drugs we have developed have new chemical structures and intellectual property rights, but targets they are based on and how they work were first discovered by other countries," said Chen.
Similar methods cause heated rivalry. "Homogeneousness is a noticeable problem in new drug development and it is likely to cause excessive competition in the market."
On paper, drug development is booming. The number of approved innovative drugs has been increasing in China year by year since 2018. In 2021, the figure is expected to exceed 20, which is more than in most other international markets, according to Chen.
China has made great progress in converting scientific research to clinical application in recent years by promoting industry cooperation and by incentivizing research. The SIMM's annual tally of contracts varies from one to several billions of yuan, according to Chen.
But more needs to be done. "Some laboratories which are doing basic research have achieved great results which, however, remain as studies,” said Chen. "They still need translational research to discover new targets and strategies based on these results to develop new drugs."
One of the solutions is improving the investment landscape. It is important and necessary but far from enough for China to improve its scientific research capabilities of developing new drugs to narrow the gap with other countries, said Chen. Biopharma needs an aggregation of many factors to form a complete innovation environment, and one important factor is the capital market, the academician added.
New avenues of thought can drive explosive growth. Discovering one new target can generally lead to a series of new drugs, said Chen.
The four-day International Biopharma Industry Week Shanghai 2021, kicked off yesterday, has attracted top experts, scholars, and investors in the sector to gather in the eastern city to offer their proposals to build Shanghai into a world-class biopharma industry cluster.
Editor: Emmi Laine, Xiao Yi