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Madri+d interviews our CSO Patricia Alfonso

 November, 2013

We feel passionate about the possibility to contribute to improving personalized medicine, which will doubtless be the medicine of the future.

What is Enzymlogic? How did it start?

Enzymlogic is a company dedicated to enzymology which offers innovative solutions to the pharmaceutical industry, thus contributing to the development of drugs with improved efficiency and safety aimed at increasing human well-being. The two founding partners, Ana Corrionero and I, considered this project as a bet on the future as well as a commitment to personal and social responsibility in view of the present situation, with widespread budget cuts and reorganizations of the public R&D system.

Based on the conviction that we can all contribute to a better future, we believe that the experience we have gained working in the discovery and development of drugs both in private and public institutions during more than fifteen years is the starting point for building our own project. We are enthusiastic about generating knowledge-based value, but most of all we feel passionate about the possibility to contribute to improving personalized medicine, which will doubtless be the medicine of the future.

What technologies do you develop?

Enzymlogic is firmly committed to combining thermodynamic, kinetic and structural information as an optimal strategy to identify drugs with innovative mechanisms of action. The challenge is to reinvent enzymology by combining traditional knowledge and technological advances, which will eventually promote enzymology to the frontline of drug discovery.

Considering that enzyme-binding partners constitute more than 50% of the drugs approved by the FDA in the last 50 years, it is about time for enzymology to regain the role of key driver for efficiency in the biopharmaceutical industry.

Our approaches allow understanding drug-target interactions, thus enabling drug optimization to yield the clinical result that both patients and physician desire.

What are the fields of application? What benefits does it bring to society?

Our targets are pharmaceutical and biotechnological companies with drug discovery projects focused on rational strategies that contribute to the improvement of targeted therapies. These therapies have great impact on society, as they allow personalized treatment based on finding the right drugs for each type of patient, thus avoiding the adverse effects associated with unnecessary and/or inefficient therapies.

Our approaches allow understanding drug-target interactions, thus enabling drug optimization to yield the clinical result that both patients and physician desire: increased efficacy, increased tolerability and appropriate response duration.

How do you foresee the evolution of technology and the markets?

Interest in enzymology has been growing at an unmatched pace for the last few years. It has played a pivotal role in the development of drugs that target kinase enzymes, which are involved in many pathologies including cancer. Epigenetic enzymes, which arouse great interest owing to their therapeutic potential; or even metabolic enzymes, now emerging, will also become the object of study of enzymology. This is certainly an ideal time to launch a company like Enzymlogic.

Our knowledge and experience in the application of enzymology to drug design establishes us in a privileged position against competition. We shall start with kinases because this product's time-to-market is very short, which facilitates sustainability in the initial phase; however, more innovative products aimed at the epigenetic area will be developed in the medium term. Our goal is to become leaders in enzymologic approaches to epigenetic drugs.

How important is for Enzymlogic to bring in new partners?

Our capacity to hit the global market from the beginning will largely determine the feasibility of our project. That's why we are particularly interested in establishing alliances with partners who can increase our sales capacity.

What do you think is the right time to come to the global market?
Enzymology has played a pivotal role in the development of drugs that target kinase enzymes, which are involved in many pathologies including cancer.
As mentioned above, our project only makes sense in the global market, which must be hit from the very beginning. The European Union is our first target market, not forgetting the USA, Japan and the emerging countries.

Becoming a global company is the aim of our internationalization development strategy, and we shall strive to establish a highly valued brand that interests customers.

As an entrepreneur, what were the main barriers and facilitators for starting the company?

Funding is obviously a major challenge. Strong support was received from such institutions as Madri+d, CIADE and the now-defunct Genoma España Foundation, which make high value tools and training available to entrepreneurs with academic scientific backgrounds.

Do you think that the conditions to set up a company have improved in the last years?

The important thing is that the situation is getting better, but there's still a long way to go. When we all contribute to innovation the whole society benefits from the change.

What would you say to a potential entrepreneur who would like to start a scientific company?

Doubtless I would encourage him/her to do it! It's hard but very rewarding. It's another way of contributing to the advance of society. Besides, it gives you the opportunity to do something different making use of the knowledge acquired, which is certainly a strong personal motivation.



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