Live From BIO: FierceBiotech sits down with Scottish Enterprise

CHICAGO - Monday at BIO, FierceBiotech sat down with Rhona Allison, director of Scottish Enterprise, a government agency tasked with economic development, to discuss what is going on life sciences in that country.

Over the last six years, Scotland's life sciences industry has grown considerably. Currently, there are more than 630 life sciences organizations operating in Scotland. And the sector employs more than 32,500 staffers. The University of Aberdeen recently received of £2.6 million has been announced by First Minister Alex Salmond. The funding was part of a £9.3m initiative across Scotland, which is expected to support the creation of 740 jobs.

Allison pointed out that many companies are attracted to Scotland because of the efficient system through which clinical trials are approved.

Allison also highlighted Scotland's ability to build on its natural assets. The nation has been a great contributor to medicine, leading to such advancements as penicillin. Just yesterday, an international team of scientists led by the University of Edinburgh announced they have found three genes linked to the development of Paget's disease.

The results, which are published in the journal Nature Genetics, confirm that genes play a crucial role in the development of the disease. This may explain why many patients have a family history of the condition.

"This is important since we know that if treatment is left too late, then irreversible damage to the bones can occur. If we were able to intervene at an early stage with preventative therapy, guided by genetic profiling, this would be a major advance," Professor Stuart Ralston, who led the study at the University of Ediburgh, says in at statement.

Scottish Enterprise recently revealed spending ideas it says have the potential to generate an additional £2 billion--or roughly $3.51 billion--for the country's economy by 2020. The plan sets out certain activities and projects Scottish Enterprise will deliver over the next three years to help accelerate economic recovery in Scotland and prepare for long-term growth.

- see the Paget's disease announcement 
- check out the University of Edinburgh study in Nature Genetics (subs. req.)