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Biopharma spurs wider progress

By Yuan Shenggao | China Daily | Updated: 2017-12-07 07:34

Zhangjiang's world-leading industry is a vital engine propelling city's overall innovation level

The biopharmaceutical industry, one of the most dynamic fields in the world, lies at the heart of Shanghai's innovation progress, and the Zhangjiang National Innovation Demonstration Zone is taking steps to establish a world-leading biopharma industrial cluster, with a number of breakthroughs in the industry.

As an important engine driving Shanghai's innovation and a key part of the city's effort in building a globally influential technological innovation hub, Zhangjiang is now home to many major achievements in scientific and technological research and intellectual property.

The biopharma and IT industries in Zhangjiang allow the zone to access rich resources to commercialize high-end biomedicine technologies. At the same time, a big data service platform in the zone has reduced local companies' costs as they can share information.

Since 2014, the administration of the Zhangjiang zone has invested 620 million yuan ($89.8 million) to support 22 key projects through a specialized fund. Total investment in the projects is more than 1 billion yuan, with 11 of them launched during China's 12th Five-Year Plan period (2011-15).

Biopharma spurs wider progress

A medical genome big data public service platform is being improved in accordance with international standards.

It comprises three systems: a standardized clinical information and sample collecting and processing system; a multiomics research, development and application system; and a collective development system for large medical data.

Industry insiders said the three systems support each other and together form a big data center containing information on diseases, providing services for basic research, clinical use and industrial development.

The platform can be used to serve as a reference for hospitals, helping them to create innovative medical service models, to provide public services for major basic research projects and new drugs' development, and to offer services to medicine developers, promoting the industrialization of new products.

The platform has thus far been utilized by about 200 companies in Zhangjiang since it was launched two years ago. In that time, the zone introduced 50 overseas personnel, added 1,000 jobs and witnessed the release of 150 new products. Total sales revenue reached 240 million yuan over the period.

Based on the capsule endoscope robot production line project, which won financial support from Zhangjiang's special fund, an incubator platform for the medical robot industry has been formed.

The sector now has a production capacity of 1 million capsule endoscope robots annually, and has led to the development of a series of related businesses, with focuses including the cloud platform for digestive tract imaging and diagnosis, and high-end endoscopes.

Zhangjiang's administration is building a technology-sharing service platform for medical stem cell treatment to meet the huge demand for stem cell transplant therapy in China.

It will also apply new stem cell technology to the treatment of leukemia, diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases, immune system regulation, as well as damage to the spinal cord, bones, cartilage and ovarian and uterine tissues.

The platform includes a national stem cell bank to collect, prepare and test stem cells, creating a vast network for effective human leukocyte antigen matching.

The stem cell technology service platform is expected to attract more professionals and promote the development of regenerative medicine centering on stem cell technologies, to fortify Shanghai's leading position in the world's biopharma sector.

The sector is estimated to generate annual revenue of billions of yuan from stem cell preparation and storage over the next five years.

There are also platforms to facilitate the industrialization of innovative medical technologies and biopharmaceuticals.

They have integrated the advanced resources of many biopharma companies in Zhangjiang, allowing them to commercialize the research achievements of local hospitals. In turn, the hospitals use the companies' innovative products.

A biopharma industry fund will be set up to resolve innovators' challenges in financing, in addition to a series of other tailor-made financial services.

 Biopharma spurs wider progress

An illustration of the path of a micro-invasive medical instrument made in the Zhangjiang National Innovation Demonstration Zone.Photos provided to China Daily

 Biopharma spurs wider progress

A startup zone in Yangpu, part of the leading national-level biopharmaceutical hub.

(China Daily 12/07/2017 page17)

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