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Bill Gates backed biotech reveals strategy

Published on 08/06/18 at 10:02am

The Bill and Melina Gates Foundation already funnels a large amount of money into aiding public health, particularly by funding promising start ups or charity research.

However, it has revealed that it is about to get more active in bringing through and developing research itself, with its own biotech, the Bill and Melinda Gates Medical Research Institute.

The biotech has two bases, in Seattle and Boston, after having been set up just over a year ago. Now, it has unveiled what disease areas will be its main focus and how it will go about developing potential vaccine and drug candidates.

It will have an annual budget of $100 million and focus on developing treatments for malaria, tuberculosis and enteric diseases.

Rather than trying to discover candidates through its own researchers, it will instead pick up on ideas with promise developing by academics or those that cannot be sufficiently developed by other companies, which need financial help to push them through the development stage.

The venture is a non-profit organisation and, as such, will pass on any potential therapeutics to larger companies to develop but under the proviso that, should they be commercialised, they are priced affordably and made available to those in need.

Due to this approach, it was revealed that the company would be staffed by a number of veterans of the biotech and pharma industry.

The CEO is Penny Heaton, who can draw on a huge amount of experience after working for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, MSD, Novavax and Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics.

In an interview with Forbes, Heaton said: “What keeps me awake is we have all this capital, we have all this opportunity and we better get something done. We better do some good in the world, or I will not feel good about leading in the Gates Foundation.”

Ben Hargreaves

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