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CD3: translating research to drugs


“We have to invest more in the discovery of drugs targeting dangerous and emerging viruses, and already start working now to counter the next pandemic.” explains Patrick Chaltin, Managing Director of CD3. “We actually have a list of multiple dangerous viruses for which we need to be more prepared, and that list included coronavirus. Together with Prof. J. Neyts from the Rega Institute, we’ve been highlighting that such a pandemic could happen for a long time and that antiviral drugs are needed alongside vaccines. This will not be the last pandemic, and building an antiviral line of defence would require much fewer resources compared to the impact of this pandemic. But I know it’s difficult for investors because there are typically no acute needs and no market.”

CD3, the Centre for Drug Design and Discovery, is an investment fund and drug discovery centre that aims to turn innovative biomedical research into drugs that can be further developed by pharmaceutical industry to treat all kinds of diseases. In June 2016, CD3’s capabilities were boosted by an important investment from the EIF under the EU’s Investment Plan for Europe. Using its drug discovery expertise, infrastructure and financial resources, CD3 works to bridge the gap between academic research and the pharmaceutical industry: “We will discover the products, validate the science and offer a product in hand that can be picked up by a pharmaceutical company to be developed to the benefit of patients,” Patrick adds.

“It’s a risky business, but there are now products in the clinic that wouldn’t have been there without our work. Typically, if one starts an investment on a new drug (very early stage), statistics will tell you that you have around 2% chance of making it on the market. If you can’t accept failure, you can’t be active in drug discovery. At CD3, we usually initiate around 6 new projects a year,” explains Patrick, “To date, out of 30 larger investments, 13 have been already been licensed out to partners and found a new home, thereby showing we close the gap successfully.“

Partnering with KU Leuven’s Rega Institute and academic and research institutions all over Europe and beyond, CD3 is a global partner in virology and a hotspot in the fight against Sars-Cov-2, working on 3 different approaches: first, screening their library of existing drugs against coronavirus to see whether repurposing could be achieved. Second, random screening of hundreds of thousands of compounds on the virus and using active compounds from such screening as starting points for the development of a potential antiviral drug; and third, exploring in depth the proteins of the virus, employing  bioinformatics tools to identify  potent inhibitors of the virus. “People talk a lot about finding a vaccine. But a drug is equally important. I think that in 2-3 years we could have a highly potent coronavirus drug in clinical development that could make the difference between life and death. ”

Type of business: healthcare

EIF financing: RCR mandate and own resources / EFSI

Financial intermediary: CD3

For further information about EIF intermediaries in Belgium, please refer to: http://www.eif.org/what_we_do/where/be/index.htm


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