Biotech collaborations in developing countries focus on cheaper drugs

A new study in Nature Biotechnology explores the rapidly proliferating links among developers in the Southern Hemisphere as they push for new therapies, vaccines and diagnostic tests that will specifically help the world's poorest people in developing nations.

Researchers from five developing nations joined with Canada's McLaughlin-Rotman Centre for Global Health to track the growth of south-south biotech collaborations in Africa, Asia and Latin America. By specifically focusing on therapeutics for the poor, the report states, these new collaborations are advancing a whole new generation of cheaper drugs.

"The key finding is that biotechnology firms in developing countries are becoming less dependent on relationships with similar firms in the industrialized north--they are able to help each other," says project leader Halla Thorsteinsdóttir. "We expect that, in future, we will increasingly see 'brother-sister' relationships between biotech firms in the developing world, and fewer 'parent-child' relationships with firms in developed countries."

The researchers tracked some 280 of these south-south collaborations. Brazil alone reported 60 such projects.

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