The stakes are set high now as AstraZeneca has taken a holistic approach in locating additional research and development resources to the research unit in Mölndal, Gothenburg. With additional disciplines; including the important research areas of respiratory and inflammation, the Gothenburg region becomes a global center for development of tomorrow’s medicines. First up is a new original drug reducing the risk of heart attack, and this is just the beginning.
AstraZeneca invests close to SEK 30 billion annually towards research and development and approximately one-third of this effort is Sweden-based. At AstraZeneca in Mölndal, approximately 2,000 scientists from all around the world are collaborating in an inspiring environment with close proximity to several leading academic centers.
World-leading research relocated to Gothenburg
Historically, AstraZeneca in Mölndal stands for world leading research within the gastrointestinal and cardiovascular disciplines. In-depth expertise in these areas has contributed strongly to AstraZeneca’s world leading position with several globally leading medications, such as Seloken® for blood pressure control and Nexium® for the treatment of acid-related diseases.
AstraZeneca has chosen to consolidate its resources to a smaller number of research units globally. As a result of this organisational change, the Mölndal unit has been reinforced with leading expertise from other research sites, i.e. Lund and Södertälje in Sweden and Charnwood in the UK.
The current disciplines of gastrointestinal and cardiovascular expertise are now being joined by the areas of respiratory and inflammation. In addition, a new capability is being established; an Inhalation Center of Excellence, with specific focus on inhalation and with an aim to improve the way novel inhaled medicines are delivered to patients across disease areas.
“We aim to develop more interdisciplinary projects as more research disciplines are concentrated to our site in Mölndal. After the organisational renewal, the Mölndal site is a complete unit for research and drug development, the largest outside the academic sphere. Of course, this also brings a great responsibility for us in developing tomorrow’s medicines”, Peter Nyström, site manager at Mölndal, explains.
Forming cross-border relationships
Research which was initiated in Lund, Södertälje and Charnwood is further developed in Mölndal. The medicine Brilique ®, or Brilinta ®, is an example of a medicine where the early research originates from Charnwood, and the mode of action of the medicine was defined in Mölndal.
“Geographical borders are overlapped by close collaborating relationships. We have a total of 14 research units in eight countries and only over the past three years, more than 80 major collaboration agreements have been established with external partners worldwide. Research has become a cross-border operation”, Peter Nyström continues.
To this date, a total of 250 scientists from the units in Lund, Södertälje and Charnwood have chosen to relocate to Mölndal.
“We still have large recruitment needs where we are looking to employ at least another 100 skilled scientists representing various disciplines during the implementation phase from 2011 to 2012”, Holger Adelmann, Global Leader of the new Inhalation Center of Excellence, states.
“Naturally, moving several years of research expertise from one research site to another constitutes a big challenge. Especially considering that you also move from one country to another, facing a whole new culture in the process. But we have the unique opportunity to create something really novel by implementing the new AstraZeneca Inhalation Center of Excellence”.
Global leader in developing original drugs
Kristina Sandin, Clinical Programme Director, is responsible for planning and running clinical drug development in Mölndal within one of AstraZeneca’s research areas. She is also responsible for project management and coordination in connection with the move of clinical researchers, projects and equipment from other research units to Mölndal.
“At present, there is an enormous amount of activity going on within the company. To facilitate the move, we have established several support functions, including a social buddy system for staff moving from other research units, and we have a very active expats club in Mölndal.
“The research unit in Mölndal is one of four global centres for drug development in AstraZeneca, and it is now joined by researchers from all over the world. This means both great trust and a great responsibility. At AstraZeneca we have a long history of successful clinical development and documentation, fulfilling our role as a global leader in developing new innovative medicines to our customers”, Kristina Sandin concludes.