Researcher to collaborate on stabilization of biopharmaceuticals with Sanofi

Science
Pictured second from left is researcher Ashutosh Sharma with his colleagues in the Department of Science

Pictured second from left is researcher Ashutosh Sharma with his colleagues in the Department of Science

The enterprise-focused research award was announced by Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris TD

On 17 August 2020 an investment of €4.3 million in 50 enterprise-focused research awards under the Irish Research Council’s Enterprise Partnership Scheme was announced. One of these is Ashutosh Sharma’s project, in collaboration with enterprise partner Sanofi, Waterford. Sharma is one of two researchers at Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) have had success in creating new linkages to enterprises through Irish Research Council funding. 

Novel Process Strategies for the Stabilization of Biopharmaceuticals for Parenteral Use is in partnership with Sanofi and will see researcher Sharma focus on assessing novel processing technologies and their relevance to the commercial biopharmaceutical products that have never been studied before. The potential impact of these novel technologies will significantly reduce time, energy and costs associated with the manufacturing of biopharmaceuticals.

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris TD announced on 17 August 2020 an investment of €4.3 million in 50 enterprise-focused research awards under the Irish Research Council’s Enterprise Partnership Scheme.

Improving quality of life

Sanofi is the partner on a WIT research project which has been included for funding in the Irish Research Council’s Enterprise Partnership Scheme which supports collaborations between researchers and partner organisations.

In the past two decades, biopharmaceuticals have been a breakthrough in improving the quality of lives of patients with various cancers, autoimmune and genetic disorders. More than 25% of drugs in the pharmaceutical market are biopharmaceuticals. With the growing demand of biopharmaceuticals, the need for reducing manufacturing costs is essential without compromising on the safety, quality and efficacy of the product. Freeze-Drying Technology is the primary commercial means of manufacturing solid biopharmaceuticals, however, drawbacks associated with this process bring in the need for feasible, cost-effective manufacturing alternatives.

Benefit to academia and industry

By gaining insights into the process as well as the product, this collaboration will benefit both academia and industry. Novel manufacturing technologies for biologics such as Spray-Drying, Spray Freeze-Drying, etc. will significantly reduce time, energy and associated costs. Studying the impact of these processes on the product through orthogonal techniques such as spectroscopy, chromatography, thermoanalytics etc. will provide enormous information on the critical quality attributes of the product that have never been studied before. This research will develop new methods that underpin any future change in the manufacturing strategy with the potential of manufacturing safe drug products at reduced costs.

Speaking at the launch of this award, supervisors Dr Helen Hughes and Ambrose Hayden stated, “We are delighted to have Sanofi as our enterprise partner and this study is central to their strategy to become the leading biopharmaceutical manufacturer. They have a dedicated team in place to support investing in this area and a significant interest in the findings from the project which may have an international impact on biopharmaceuticals processing. We, along with our PhD student Ashutosh, will gain much from working with Sanofi who are a hugely committed partner and supporter of this research”

Sean Cullen (Sanofi) added “We are delighted to partner with Dr. Hughes and WIT. We have seen the research excellence that their Group, the PMBRC at WIT have and continue to achieve. We are confident that this research project will mark the way for a sustained collaborative partnership into the future”.

Praise for success

Dr Mark White, VP Research, Innovation & Graduate Studies at Waterford Institute of Technology welcomed this great achievement of these successful Irish Research Council awards, stating “We value ourselves here in WIT with competing for and delivering high quality, relevant and impactful research projects for our community. Through schemes like the IRC Enterprise Partnership Schemes WIT creates linkages and partnerships with enterprises which are invaluable to embedding our research into the region. Receiving such prestigious awards reminds us and the higher education sector that WIT is ready to start our journey towards becoming the Technological University of the South East.”


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