Micar Innovation is a “factory” for discovering new drug molecules. The company has found a niche to create big public impact by improving the quality of people’s lives through new blockbuster drug molecules for a large range of medical issues. Micar Innovation is focused on non-clinical Proof-of-Concepts (PoCs) in preclinical R&D field and Hit-to-Lead (H2L) achievements in fields such as neurology, oncology, the cardio-vascular system, dermatology, rare diseases, etc. Micar21 is the main platform for new small molecule drug candidates. The business model is based on patenting the newly discovered molecules, where licenses are then licensed to commercial partners (big pharma companies). The other model is setting up new spin-out companies to further develop the new drug molecule until the clinical PoC and the follow-up sale/licensing of the patent.
Micar Innovation received the CIDIC/European Diplomatic, Economic & Academic Centre/ award for its well-chosen positioning in a complex and long value chain, where it can create key-value contributions by delivering no-clinical PoCs. The company can be described as a fountain of intellectual property and an IP broker for new pharma startups and the big pharma industry.
Micar Innovation is winner of the Best Biotech Startup 2017 award by the 4th CEE Startup Awards.
We talked to Dimitar Dimitrov, Micar Innovation co-founder, CEO and Business Development Manager, about the company’s operations in Sofia and the biotech industry potential in Bulgaria’s capital.
Mr. Dimitrov, what does your company do here in Sofia and abroad?
Micar Innovation’s main operations are focused on discovering new small drug molecules. Currently, the company manages a portfolio of 10 different new drug molecules at a different PoC stage. The leading new drug molecules for treating chronic pain, pancreas cancer and melasma are in the most advanced stage of development, they are now entering preclinical trials.
We have launched a brand new project to study 100 new drug molecules of a given class to find treatment for rare and ultra-rare diseases (60% of these rare diseases affect mainly children and are related to gene mutations).
How long does it take for the new drug molecule to reach the patient?
This is a regulated and difficult scientific process, requiring big investments. What we create now will be available on the market in at least three-to-five years.
What is the good news that validates you and helps you stand out on a global scale?
The good news is that the world renowned market analysis agency Roots Analysis published a study on the main players in “Computer-Aided Drug Discovery Services Market 2018-2030”. Our company, Micar Innovation, is one of the world’s 250 companies in the report alongside corporations such as Sanofi, Merck, etc.
Of course, this should not set us at ease – we are moving ahead to continue to prove our worth. Our goal is to put Bulgaria and Sofia in particular on the global biotech map in the field of life sciences.
Who are Roots Analysis?
Roots Analysis perform market studies and deliver consultancy in the pharmaceutical industry. By providing a well-informed and unbiased look insight into the key issues facing the industry, the Roots Analysis study offers in-depth analysis covering the following parameters: technology evolution, science R&D, existing market landscape, future business potential, regulatory issues, regional growth leaders, risks and opportunities.
Considering the growing complexity of the process involving the discovery of new drug molecules, overall science R&D costs in the pharmaceutical/biotech sector have increased from about $128 billion in 2008 to $158 billion in 2017. Thus, the industry is now facing huge pressure not only to meet the expectations of the growing population of patients, but to also find ways to mitigate the risks associated with new programmes aimed at finding new drug molecules in a bid to avoid failure. With time, various calculation tools and services have emerged, allowing us to select, model, analyze and optimize the potential leading drug molecules. The predictable power of computer-aided drug discovery (CADD) has turned out to be exceptionally useful, allowing researchers to bypass the random screening of billions of molecules in hundreds of biological targets. As a results, players offering new CADD services are now an integral part of the pharmaceutical industry.
Where can people find the study you have been listed in?
The study (the company offers market studies and consultancy in the pharmaceutical industry) on “Computer-Aided Drug Discovery Services Market, 2018-2030” can be found on Roots Analysis’ website, Reports section.
Can you please share some of the inspiring new projects you are working on at the moment?
We use our platform to discover new drug molecules in our new Precise Medicine (Pharmacogenomics) project.
Pharmacogenomics looks into the way genes are impacted by medicines. This relatively new field combines pharmacology (the science of drugs) and genomics (the science of genes and their functions) in a bid of developing efficient, safe drugs and doses taking into account the human genotype.
Many of the medicines offered on the market right now are “same for all”, but they don’t work in the same way for everyone.
There is a way to predict how a given medicine would affect a particular patient, which medicine will have no effect at all and which would give negative side effects, i.e. unwanted side effects. Unwanted side effects are a serious cause of hospitalizations and deaths globally. The knowledge acquired through our new project teach us how hereditary gene differences impact the way organisms react to medicines. These genetic differences will be used to very reasonably predict whether a given medicine would be effective for a particular patient and help prevent unwanted drug reactions.
Actually, our analysis is an individual scientific study. As far as we know, there is no any other such possibility on the international market.
To explain it in brief:
A patient has a disease (a mutation of a particular gene). The patient should undergo a genetic test and a blood test, which are largely available and easy to access. After the tests come out and are given to us, we read the data relating to the particular gene mutation (the specifics of the disease). We are launching the project with precise genomic analysis and in 4-10 weeks a detailed report is generated, which should then be mandatorily sent to and received by the medical doctor in charge of treating the patient.
This report contains the following information:
– How the mutations of the particular patient change the respective protein structure and its functions;
– Whether this is a mutation that causes a disease or not (thus, the patient will also be aware of the actual cause of the disease);
– Whether existing medicines, if there are such, may impact the particular protein mutation (prediction of the medicines that could help the particular patient). Actually, this is the main principle of pharmacogenomics – precise medicine, since not every medicine causes the same response in different individuals.
– If there is no such known medicine – we give prediction of any possible (including experimental in some of the phases – I, II, and III) treatment and even natural products that may help. All cases listed above should be discussed with the medical doctor in charge of the treatment.
In the end, what we get is the foundations of Precise Medicine (Pharmacogenomics), where the best medicine is found for each particular patient, securing a treatment for the particular disease (gene mutation).
Can you tell us more about the biotech community in Bulgaria and Sofia in particular?
For a long time, we had no fully realised biotech community, therefore, we and some of our associates decided to organise a series of informative meetings. After we got to know each other and started talking about joint projects, the idea was naturally born to make our informal group official. I am happy that Micar Innovation is one of the initiators and co-founders of the first Bulgarian Health and Life Sciences Cluster.
The Health and Life Sciences Cluster includes an ecosystem from the academic circles, the public sector, the NGO and private sector. Our main idea is to facilitate open collaboration and accelerate innovations by bringing together partners who are capable of contributing to meeting the needs of the health and life sciences industry.
What is the industry’s potential in Sofia?
One of the main goals of the new Health and Life Sciences Cluster is to identify all players on the health and life sciences market, identifying the operations and possible partnerships as accurately as possible. At the same time, the cluster is launching a series of meetings with all municipal and government institutions, which are part of this sector and have set goals in the field. Another important element of the establishing a successful ecosystem comes in the face of scientific and educational institutions, which we are also inviting to join us as partners. And last but not least, there are the innovative companies, which are the face of the industry. They are among the key members of the cluster and are exceptionally innovative and advanced indeed. We plan to introduce them to the wider audience, with their inspiring ideas and stories.
The potential of a sector is a combination of all entities and individuals working responsibly within the created ecosystem. Our goal is to carefully manage this process and build a sustainable potential for the health and life sciences sector.
Right after building the brand and identifying all players locally, in Bulgaria, we are going to start contacting suitable partners and similar organizations worldwide. After all, in the “global village” we live in, it is good to know our community and partner with each other in a series of project to further develop the potential of the health and life sciences industry.