Two Baton Rouge research organizations are part of a new public-private partnership that will work to create genetically engineered proteins more quickly and at lower costs for biopharmaceutical companies.

Pennington Biomedical Research Center at LSU and ProteoVec Inc., which also has facilities in Raleigh and Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, are among five members of the Southern Biologics Network. Pennington’s research includes work in combatting obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, dementia and other chronic diseases. ProteoVec’s scientists specialize in developing biologics production processes that can be efficiently scaled up for larger production.

“More affordable production and more mature early stage process development will lead to a greater number of breakthroughs making it to market,” said Dr. Michael Crapanzano, ProteoVec chief executive officer. “Not only does that save time, that saves money, too.”

Biologics have revolutionized the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis and different types of cancers, according to Southern Biologics Network. Development of new biosimilar versions of existing breakthrough biologics are key to making health care more affordable and improving outcomes.

SBN said it is the first organization in the Southeast to provide comprehensive biologic development services. Pharmaceutical companies will be able to save time and money by working with one organization instead of coordinating the work of several biopharma research firms for the manufacture, discovery, preclinical development and early stage clinical development.

It can take up to 15 years to create a U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved drug, according to Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. It can cost more than $1 billion to develop a new drug, and only 20 percent of those marketed break even or turn a profit.

The other members of Southern Biologics Network are Birmingham, Alabama-based:

  • Southern Research Institute, which has created seven FDA-approved cancer drugs. The institute’s scientists also are developing treatments for Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, diabetes and infectious diseases.
  • The Center for Structural Biology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, a structural biology research center providing scientists with biophysical and structural information on protein and protein/drug complexes.
  • Soluble Therapeutics Inc., which provides quick turnarounds for formulations that maximize the solubility and stability for protein-based therapeutics.