James Watson, who won the 1962 Nobel Prize in Biology and Medicine for the discovery of three-dimensional molecular structure of DNA, on June 20 visited the laboratories of the innovative biotech company BIOCAD.
The Nobel laureate did not expect to see a Russian company developing complex innovative drugs against cancer on the same level as the world's leading pharmaceutical companies. In the meeting with Russian researchers James Watson noted that it is the mid-sized companies with their own research departments that today are moving the science forward.
James Watson visited the BIOCAD labs, which are located in "Neudorf" Special Economic Zone in St. Petersburg. Today it is the largest R & D complex in Russia. Investments in the construction and equipment of the center have amounted to over $ 100 million.
There BIOCAD experts are working on the MabNext project - the creation of Russia's first innovative drugs based on monoclonal antibodies against severe forms of cancer and autoimmune diseases. A unique special technique has been developped for new medicines; it combines simulation tools and molecule and gene synthesis de novo. Today, this technology has no analogues. One of the products designed using a new technique is a drug based on a protein antigen PD -1 for the treatment of the most aggressive type of skin cancer - melanoma.
The famous biologist James Watson is convinced - in 10 years, the majority of cancers will be completely curable. "Now, the most important thing - to seek a cure for advanced cancers," - said the Nobel laureate. CEO of BIOCAD Dmitry Morozov agrees with the discoverer of the DNA structure: "Our main task is to defeat the severe forms of cancer. For the development of our innovative products, we plan to bring in the tools of "artificial intelligence." Today there is no sense in copying the Western technology as the life cycle of innovation does not exceed 5 years. To become the first in the world, you must constantly be at the forefront of scientific advances, and create entirely new products. "
James Watson advised young scientists of BIOCAD not to undertake research projects, the horizon of which exceeds 3 years, and the company - to develop only those products that can be put on the market no later than in 5-7 years. On the subject biotechnology, "What will the future cancer drugs look like?" - James Watson replied: "You decide. I hope someone else will find out. " The arrival of the Nobel laureate became an important event for the company's employees and underlined the high status of BIOCAD as an innovative company, and its international scope.
At the meeting with BIOCAD's experts, the famous scientist called the Russians "warm people." He exchanged business cards with employees and expressed the desire to meet again whenever Russian scientists are in the United States. Shortly before the visit to BIOCAD, on June 17, at the Russian Academy of Sciences the Nobel medal was returned to James Watson; he sold it in December 2014 at an auction to raise money to continue research.
The award was returned to the Nobel laureate by Alisher Usmanov. Last year the Russian philanthropist and businessman bought medal at Christie's auction for 4.8 million dollars and immediately announced his intention to give it to the scientist. Along with James Watson on Saturday June the 20th, BIOCAD was visited by the Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation Sergey Tsyb.