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”Our goal is to help the person with the disease to feel less like a patient”

03 december 2019, 15:54

Dr Jonas Fransson is the chair of NextBioForm and director at Sobi Swedish Orphan Biovitrum where he is responsible for strategies for drug product development. For our newsletter, we interviewed Jonas about the importance of projects such as NextBioForm and how Sobi via NextBioForm can influence and co-create new formulations for their products.

Jonas Fransson

Why is a centre like NextBioForm needed today?

– Sweden is ahead of many countries when it comes to medical sciences. There is a lot of good academic research as well as many interesting protein companies developing impressive new types of therapeutic molecules. However, to make these molecules into products will require highly skilled people and formulation strategies. There is currently no place or institution that trains or even performs dedicated research in the know-how on how to stabilize proteins or bacteria, outside the industry. It is clear that there’s a need to provide this in order to translate the molecules into products that will give a successful therapy for the patient as well as the healthcare system.

What does Sobi get out of participating in the NextBioForm project?

– We have found that the centre gives us a great opportunity for learning about other companies and providers in the field. We also benefit from learning new technologies for the characterization of proteins that could be useful for us. More importantly, we also see the possibility to influence and co-create new formulation concepts for our future products. In the longer term, NextBioForm gives us access to students educated in formulation of protein products, a much sought-after competence.

What are the main challenges within the research of formulation of biologics?

– One of the main challenges concerns the user perspective. Today, the industry has no problem formulating biological products that have a reasonable shelf life to be manufactured, but the product is often poorly adapted to the real life of the users. For example, most products must still be stored very strictly at 2-8°C. For a person with a disease that requires access to medication all the time, it is quite limiting for his/her everyday life. Our goal is to help the person with the disease to feel less like a patient.

What do you hope to gain from NextBioForm in the coming years?

– As mentioned above we hope to get access to new breakthrough formulation concepts for our current and future products that will enable products that are truly patient-centric and fit into everyday life. We also hope to see that small and medium-sized enterprises developing new drugs consider the formulation and stability aspects more actively which will accelerate commercialization and interesting partnerships.

Inclusion of large scale research infrastructures such as MAX IV and neutron facilities are important in the research in NextBioForm to provide a detailed mechanistic understanding of formulations. What is your experience of these methods and how did those benefit Sobi?

– Sobi has not used x-ray or neutron-based technologies or Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) to any large extent so far. We have used X-ray crystallography or NMR to determine protein structure or target interactions. However, through NextBioForm we have started to learn much more about these methods and the broader value they can provide both in strict formulation applications but also as important tools to characterize things like medical devices. Sobi cannot use or operate these methods by ourselves so we need skilled and knowledgeable experts to collaborate with. I would like to say that we are only at the beginning of learning about and implementing these techniques.