Introducing New Opportunities Through Genomic Medicine
Q: What are Landsteiner Scientific’s key product lines?
A: Our pipeline includes biotechnological drugs, genomic medicine, injectables and oral solids. We have several research lines but the most advanced is related to obesity. We started phase I clinical trials for this line in Spain, although phase III will eventually take place in Mexico. We have recently opened a new platform in genomic medicine focused on oncology. Landsteiner is starting with colon cancer, a common disease among men in Mexico and the US. The company currently has a line of semi-solids such as creams, a line of injectables and a line of immunosuppressants, high-specialty drugs whose production must be separated from others.
Q: What opportunities does Landsteiner Scientific see in genomic medicine?
A: Besides Landsteiner, there is no research being done by Mexican companies in genomic medicine. If we continue on this path, we could be one of the first to launch a drug obtained from genomic medicine. There are many diagnoses and studies in genomic medicine but no medicines yet. As an example, 23andMe, a genetics lab, genotypes its clients’ DNA samples and informs them of any genetic predispositions. For a while, the FDA had banned the company from doing that because people did not know what to do with this information.
Q: How can genomic medicine help improve the health of Mexicans?
A: The genetic information of a population is used to identify genetic traits that can help either control or cure the prevalent diseases. Our industry evolved into personalized medicine but now the discourse has evolved into precision medicine. We know that some drugs do not work equally well in different populations. Genomic medicine could show what medicines work best according to common Mexican genetic traits.
Q: What support does Landsteiner Scientific receive from academic institutions?
A: We have received support from the Metropolitan Autonomous University (UAM), the National Institute of Genomic Medicine (INMEGEN) and UNAM through the Institute of Biomedical Research. There are only a few countries where this kind of research is being done, including Mexico, Spain and the US. Landsteiner’s Spanish subsidiary GENMED is focused on projects in genomic medicine in several therapeutic lines.
Q: What kind of medicines are you developing against colon cancer?
A: When colon cancer develops, there is a metabolic component that makes colon cells go rogue. Landsteiner aims to interrupt the signal that orders cells to continue reproducing, which is possible through genomic medicine. Once the factors that enable cancer to appear are discovered, our researchers look for the best place and moment to stop the cancer from growing. There are two alternatives: one is a medicine that interrupts the uncontrolled cell-reproduction; the other creates memory in the human body so that cancerous cells can be recognized and eliminated regardless of where they are or whether there is metastasis.
Q: How are your sales distributed among the public and private sectors?
A: 90 percent of Landsteiner’s sales used to go to the government, but we started changing that in 2016 by strengthening our private sales division. Our target is a 70-30 sales ratio.
Q: What is Landsteiner doing to reduce the cost of medicine and improve access?
A: To achieve this, the company works with generic and biosimilar medicines. However, to reduce prices and make access to drugs easier it is necessary to make drug registration simpler. COFEPRIS has done a great job, yet these normative changes are difficult to apply and the industry is struggling. We restructured our medical division because we set the goal of submitting 15 new medicines for registration per year to keep our pipeline from becoming obsolete and unprofitable.