Speaking at conferences in Prague

I had the pleasure of being back in one of my favourite cities recently to speak at the 2nd MedChemBio Seminar organised by the IOCB in Prague. The primary papers related to the the chemistry and biology of DNA. Jiri Bartek of the Institute of Molecular and Translational Medicine at Palacky University, Olomouc gave a fascinating paper entitled “Genome maintenance mechanisms in disease pathogenesis and emerging targets for personalised therapy”. The theme continued with Lumir Krejci’s paper on “DNA repair as a target for medicinal chemistry” based on work undertaken at the National Centre for BioMedical Research at Masaryk University in Brno. Michal Hocek of the IOCB’s own reseach centre completed the line up with a challenging exposition of “Novel base-modified nucleosides and nucleotides. From Cytostatics to functionalized DNA”. What became clear to me from the papers and surrounding discussion was how close we now are to genuinely personalised medicine – not so much from the point of seeing different medicines for every person but from being able to select the treatment most suited to each individual and the very different responses to treatment that can now be predicted.

One of the great joys of going to these conferences however is not just the opportunity to learn about cutting edge science but also to meet interesting individuals. There was a good interaction at this meeting between academics and industry and one company in attendance that might be of interest to readers is BioTest s.r.o. www.biotest.eu This company offers a range of preclinical services including a wide range of animal work. If you are interested in finding out more about them contact their CEO Jan Zabsky at zabsky@biotest.eu.

I had been invited to talk about the different approaches being taken by academic institutions around the world to commercialisation. To some extent this may reflect particular cultures but also local needs – some universities are focussed on local regeneration and job creation while others may be more interested in seeing their science being used or in increasing their prestige, or in widening the horizons of their students. Even within the same instiution departments and individuals may have very different goals. One thing is clear and that is successful commercialisation requires the development of good networks. I could not go into this in much detail at the conference beyond looking at some of the general techniques that could be used however I have been invited to run workshops on this topic at the opening conference of the Central European Branch of the Innovation Support Project in September. You can find out more about what should be a very lively conference at www.cebbis.eu/conference. I hope to see many of you there.

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