Ukrainian chemists invent drugs for major foreign pharmaceutical companies

Ukrainian chemists invent drugs for major foreign pharmaceutical companies

These scientists once whining about the lack of government funding: they earn on creating new drugs, those who left returned to the West and colleagues show the country Nobel laureates 

In the bowels of an abandoned industrial area suddenly found parking, crowded with foreign cars, and brand-new housing laboratories, painted in cheerful colors. Entrance — Strictly by electronic pass. Inside, surrounded by gurgling flasks substances and shiny chrome sides aggregates people in lab coats, gloves and safety glasses synthesize biologically active compounds. Results in the form of dozens of vials of the new substances sent for analysis to date equipment, and computer monitors are displayed intricate molecular structures.

This is not a Hollywood blockbuster footage to create a terrible virus that could destroy all life on the planet. All the reality is in the laboratories of chemical and biological center "Ukrorgsintez" located in Kiev in the former Soviet atlas chemical plant "Radical". And more than three hundred people working in the private company act as a good, not evil geniuses — they are scratching their heads over the creation of new drugs. And unlike the majority of Ukrainian scholars, except the joy of discovery and still get excellent returns.

Customized Research 
The history of this business began in the 90s with an unexpected phone call. Andrej Tolmachev, the current director of "Ukrorgsintez", and then the employee poorly funded Kiev Institute of Organic Chemistry, took the company Dupont. "I thought it was a joke. But the meeting went. For good reason — I was offered a grant of 10,000 dollars ", — says Tolmachev. Almost all the money at once went to the necessary reagents for the experiments with which chemists traditional napryazhenka. The customer was satisfied with the results of the research. Then there was the next grant for development — is about $ 1 million, "And I realized that research in the field of organic chemistry can be sold," — says Tolmachev. In 2001, he organized a "Ukrorgsintez."

Dream sanepidemstantsii
Such a device for determining the chemical composition of the substance is not nobody else in Ukraine

Now center operates mainly in large pharmaceutical companies, among which there are such industry giants as GlaxoSmithKlien. The essence of their business Tolmachev explains: "We set goals — we will solve them."

Chemists employed synthesis of new molecules which can manifest biologically active potential, and hence be useful for the treatment of various diseases.

"For example, a mollusk found a substance which is effective against cancer. But to cure at least one person, you must destroy all the shellfish in the world. Then begins work hard to ensure that the substance is synthesized artificially "- on the fingers explains the drug design process Tolmachev.

Sometimes, the customer has a compound that has excellent disease, but bad for the liver. The task of Ukrainians — to fix the problem by proposing a related substance without this disadvantage. "Then, for good cards, one of our chemist is a year around 100,000 dollars. If we really reached the goal, in addition to specified get bonus money, sometimes it's still plus 50% "- outlines the scale of remittances Tolmachev.

Such high returns, however, are associated with considerable costs. For example, the equipment, to put it mildly, is not cheap: for example, devices for analysis by nuclear magnetic resonance cost "Ukrorgsintez" half a million dollars. But such is not nobody else in the country. Not less than $ 400 million a year is spent on reagents alone. Some of them are synthesized by chemists themselves, as part of the purchase in China, while keeping all the traditional importers of hassle with customs.

Beat is not sorry
Spoiled in the experiments flasks and vials immediately repaired to the glass-blowing workshop

At considerable cost and poured the process of finding customers — you need to keep your eye on all professional conferences and exhibitions devoted to biological chemistry. "Just to take part in them spend about 100,000 dollars a year. Not to mention the cost of living ", — says Director of" Ukrorgsintez. "

However, it is worth it — about Ukrainians in Western academic circles had the most flattering opinion. "A collection of low molecular weight compounds, the proposed Enamine (under this brand name" Ukrorgsintez "works abroad. —Focus) — The largest in the world, also retains a considerable degree of diversity. It provides an exceptional opportunity for the discovery of new medicines, "- praises chemists Dr. Joe Lewis of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory.

However, some foreigners are often skeptical that the Ukrainians have the necessary material base. "Few of the U.S. and Britain believe that in Ukraine there is. So my goal — to drag them here, show "- explains Tolmachev.

Ukrainians will soon be able to dispel all doubts — in August, the annual conference of the European Society of Biological Chemistry, one of the most prestigious events in the field of drug development, will be held in Kiev, in the five-star hotel Premier Palace. During that chemists had to shell out $ 10 million sponsorship fee. Tolmachev, the money did not regret, because the event will come to two Nobel Prize winners, and among the luminaries of the science of chemistry will serve the employees of his company.

Inaccessible abroad
However, in the business chemists are somewhat limited. In "Ukrorgsintez" honestly admit that they can not boast of a full authorship of some of the new drug. "If you compare the creation of drugs to build a car, we are, relatively speaking, paint, and only the bottom. All stages are scattered in different laboratories — complete picture no one else has. Since whales reduce the price of pharmaceutical industry research and trying to protect themselves, "- explains Tolmachev.

Solo private company and does not think about how to work on the final result: the creation of a new drug costs at least $ 1 billion, and the idea to the finished tablets and injections are the years of improvements and testing.

How to create drugs

Tolmachev, not without regret, says that researchers in other countries sometimes fall to more of its Russian competitors, for example, the state allocated $ 8 billion for the development of a new tuberculosis vaccine. In Ukrainian budget such opportunities are not present, and the company is working from the beginning without any public funding. From private producers medications not much good anymore. "Unfortunately, our pharmaceutical plants just buy the substance in China and packaged, are not involved in the research," — throws up his hands Tolmachev.

However, it does not abandon hope yet to get used and the domestic Ukrainian market. However, in a somewhat different role — as a manufacturer of laboratory equipment. It all started with the fact that chemists are engaged in repair, and then the production for their own purposes. "Now we go to that level to be ready to equip any chemical laboratory. No worse than foreign counterparts, because in itself would not have done badly. And once we have the results of the tests — we do use this equipment. And the needs are and at food manufacturers, and at the same sanepidemstantsiya — scared to say that they have there now stands ", — says Director of Marketing" Ukrorgsintez "Basil Shuleshko.

Import brain
Despite the fact that the business is still more oriented to the west rather than Ukrainian market, it brings a clear benefit Ukraine. In this company can count on a decent salary best Ukrainian organic chemists, whose research institutes and university departments are waiting for ridiculous money but lack of modern equipment and reagents.

"There are several other private laboratories, branches of foreign companies. But there, as far as I know, there is no way to conduct research. Tolmachev — monopoly, with all the ensuing consequences, "- says the 23-year-old graduate of the Kiev University. Shevchenko Dmitry Panov. On "Ukrorgsintez" he first heard when still a schoolboy won the All-Ukrainian Olympiad in Chemistry, and the first year of college came here to work. And now it's counsels and other students.

Students come — each year about eight people. From the start the boys and girls receive a salary higher than the average official in the capital, and it quickly grows to $ 1 thousand Promising young people are held in every way — especially the temptation to go to the well-fed grain abroad, where he appreciates Ukrainian brains.

Accommodation for nothing 
At the commandant cottage for employees' Ukrorgsintez "Alexander Samohvalova — two rooms, because the family is large, the rest — one

"They are very difficult to make a choice. After all, in graduate school in France, they immediately offer about 2 million euros and a room in a hostel. In order to somehow compete, we have built something like gostinok show in Kiev, on the job 35 minutes away, "- says Tolmachev. All those wishing to room in a cottage built right provided free of charge, only need to pay for utilities.

Resolution of the housing problem really helps a lot personnel well-being — at least, chemists who want to say goodbye to the company over the past few years no one will remember. On the contrary, Tolmachev especially proud of two dozen eminent scientists who, fairly shook the best foreign research centers, have returned to work in Ukraine — it is natural to him.

For example, Alexander Shivanyuk came here after nine years of wandering in foreign countries. And his last place of employment was the most famous in the world center of "drug design", that is, the invention of drugs, the American Institute of Scripps. Ukrainians get there $ 48 thousand a year. "Now I feel quite normal welfare — explains the scientist. — I've got a unique opportunity to work in business, and in science. "

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