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Translating research into cures

01 March 2014

Basic research is like a spark that lights a fire. That fire is called translational research and development. Once sparked, the harnessed power of the fire can be applied for many useful purposes.

BioMed Valley Discoveries does just this as it harnesses the fire sparked from research at organizations like the Stowers Institute. BVD’s strategy is to focus its efforts on projects that traditional biotech or pharmaceutical companies might have deemed too early, too risky, or too unprofitable to handle.

“At BVD, we pursue projects across different therapeutic and diagnostic areas, including cancer, inflammation, and infectious disease,” says BVD President Saurabh Saha, MD, PhD. “Instead of commercial returns driving our organization, we concentrate on addressing unmet medical needs with bench-to-bedside translational research. Our goal is to ensure that innovative treatments, backed by strong scientific evidence, will reach patients across the globe.”

As with the Stowers Institute, it all started with Jim and Virginia Stowers. Frustrated by the numbers of potential life-changing discoveries languishing on the shelves of universities and research institutes around the world, they decided to separate drug discovery and development from basic research in order to speed scientific findings from lab to clinic. The organizational structure they put in place—a for-profit discovery development company operating for the benefit of a non-profit was unusual at that time. In 2004—only a few years after the Stowers Institute for Medical Research opened its doors—BVD was founded with $50 million in seed capital.

To achieve its goal, BVD has created a virtual company. In labs and offices scattered around the country, BVD counts on the efforts of hundreds of researchers, clinicians, regulatory experts, clinical trial coordinators, drug manufacturers, and consultants. Together, the extended BVD team finds ways to develop drugs and therapies that will positively impact the human condition without ever coming together in a factory-type facility.

BVD has the broad mandate of developing discoveries made at the Stowers Institute as well as those made at other non-profit or for-profit organizations. The company is currently working on a diverse portfolio of projects—from tumor-fighting bacteria to a new imaging tool that detects bacterial infections to a drug that targets a specific genetic vulnerability found in melanoma, pancreatic cancer, and subsets of colon and lung cancers.

“We base our projects on established research with strong scientific evidence,” says Saha. “Ideas we execute come from a variety of sources, including from those conceived internally at BioMed Valley Discoveries, from our relationship with the Stowers Institute, from academia, and from biotech and pharmaceutical companies.”

Consequently, BVD has been successful in quickly developing potential disease-fighting treatments. It’s an innovative philosophy that Jim and Virginia Stowers originally envisioned when they established both the Institute and BVD—and one that enables a smooth path from basic research to practical application in order to fulfill the mission of improving the health and well being of people around the world.

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