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Peptide Pharmaceuticals Manufacturing - Making Fmoc Solid Phase Synthesis The Preferred Route

Peptide drugs account for worldwide sales of US$3.5 billion and are estimated to be growing at a rate of 10 to 15 per cent per annum. This currently represents about 5 per cent of the overall pharmaceutical market. Simply rolling this through takes sales to around US$5 billion by 2005. And the potential is steadily increasing. The human genome has now been mapped by private as well as public bodies. It was estimated prior to completion that the human genome would contain around 120,000 genes, calculated from the number of individual genes required to code the molecules of life. It transpires that there may only be as few as 26,000 to 30,000. This raises the prospect that not only must each gene code form more than one protein, but proteins may act together to give a new effect. The study of these interactions has given rise to a new technology - proteomics.

It is expected that the Human Genome Project, coupled with proteomics, will lead to large numbers of new peptide and protein drug candidates. Numerous companies are on the discovery trail and are utilising a whole range of technologies to exploit and map these molecules. This is likely to cause an explosion in the number of peptide and protein drugs moving into the clinic. Are we about to enter a golden era for biopharmaceuticals? Major Pharma seems to think so.

We are seeing a renewed interest from Major Pharma in these molecules as they partner with the biotech discoverers, providing the financing and skills needed to take them to market. In addition, the number of collaborations being signed with the basic science providers (genomics, proteomics and so on) is accelerating. With the discovery of mechanisms to generate more molecules, research at the back-end has also increased. For example, at the last count there were over 40 companies involved in solving just the issue of delivery. Some examples of these are:


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By Kevin Price, Business Manager of the Peptide Pharmaceutical Business within Avecia Biotechnology

Kevin Price is Business Manager of the Peptide Pharmaceutical Business within Avecia Biotechnology. Kevin majored in Biochemistry before joining a research group at the Royal Postgraduate Medical School in London in 1981, which looked at the therapeutic potential of monoclonal antibodies. From here he joined Cambridge Research Biochemicals (CRB) in 1986 to head the Immunology Unit.

After CRB's acquisition by ICI in 1989, Kevin switched to a commercial career track and held a number of positions within ICI, Zeneca and Avecia. He has been Business Manager of Peptide Pharmaceuticals since 1999. Kevin has a BSc, an MSc and a Diploma in Immunology.

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