Philips strikes alliance with biopharm firm

May 23, 2007

An alliance between Philips Medical Systems and biopharmaceutical company Organon announced May 22 is designed to aid in the development of new drugs and therapies.

An alliance between Philips Medical Systems and biopharmaceutical company Organon announced May 22 is designed to aid in the development of new drugs and therapies.

Organon will combine its expertise in biomarkers with Philips' abilities in medical imaging over the next five years to study the effects of drugs at the molecular level.

In the first year of the collaboration, Philips will try to put the tools in place to show that in vivo imaging with specific biomarkers is feasible and that quantitative measurements can be made. Work will focus on the development of PET and SPECT agents incorporating biomarkers for depression and schizophrenia. The research team will also consider how functional MRI and MR spectroscopy might be used to look at biomarkers present in the brain. In the next few years, the team will extend its work to include cancer.

"What Organon brings is expertise in disease and knowledge in creating pharmaceutical leads and developing those leads into products," said Oliver Steinback, Ph.D., head of Philips' biomolecular engineering department and leader of the collaboration. "This work aims at spanning the gap between early in vitro activities and the medical condition."

Philips' partner, Organon, is the human healthcare business unit of Akzo Nobel and an established developer of fertility, gynecological, and anesthesia compounds with research under way in neuroscience and specific R&D efforts in immunology and oncology. The company distributes products in more than 100 countries and has operations in more than 50.

The partnership exemplifies the Dutch imaging giant's approach to personalized medicine. Rather than acquire companies with biomarker expertise, Philips has pulled together a group of experts in chemistry, biochemistry, and pharmacology to work on in vitro diagnostics while building a state-of-the-art life sciences facilities on its Eindhoven campus. Here at Philips' Life Sciences Facilities, this core group can work with outside collaborators to extend its early work.

"We firmly believe that no single company has all the breadth and expertise to develop something on its own," said Franklin H. Schuling, Ph.D., sector head for molecular medicine at Philips Research. "The plan is to build the team of researchers from Philips and Organon to jointly work on this project."

The advanced life sciences facilities will provide Organon access to technologies useful in identifying, validating, and exploiting biomarkers. These facilities provide the infrastructure for R&D in translational biomarkers and molecular medicine, Schuling said.