Lek professionals receive prestigious award

Innovator of the Year 2002

3. 12. 2003

Today, the Slovene Chamber of Commerce, bestowed the award of Innovator of the Year 2002 to a group composed of Dr. Viktor Menart and Mag. Simona Jevsevar from the Lek pharmaceutical company and Dr. Vladka Gaberc-Porekar from the National Institute of Chemistry. The group won top honors for their project of obtaining recombinant proteins using innovative solutions (development of producer cells, biosynthesis technology and a procedure for isolating recombinant proteins).

Through conferring the award of Innovator of the Year, Chamber wishes to encourage innovation in the Ljubljana region, which increases the competitiveness of the economy and at the same time gives public support to and presents the creativity of many professional cadres of innovators.

The basis for obtaining recombinant proteins for human therapy (biopharmaceuticals) is the mastering of the technological complex which includes recombinant-DNA technology, biosynthesis and isolation, and each level must be accompanied by top-quality analysis. A natural human gene has to be modified on the genetic level so that economical production is possible after it is transferred to the bacteria Escherichia coli. In addition to bacteria and various forms of yeasts, mammalian cells are currently most popular, especially for the production of more complex proteins. To obtain each recombinant protein, a technology has to be developed which is cost-effective and guarantees a competitive advantage on the market for a long period of time. Mastering the production of biopharmaceuticals whose patents have expired is a professional and commercial challenge, and innovative solutions are therefore especially desirable.

Two of the currently most popular biopharmaceuticals are filgrastim and erythropoetin, which represent an important area of biopharmaceuticals, especially in the fields of oncology and hematology. Without these drugs, modern therapies would be unimaginable. Mastering the technology of obtaining these and other biopharmaceuticals is the basis for entry into the most demanding markets, since it enables the surmounting of the entry hurdles in the field of technology, patent protection and registration.

With his innovative approach and goal-oriented methodology, Dr. Viktor Menart, within his own group and in the broader context of cooperation with the National Institute of Chemistry, is a deserving recipient for his development of innovative technology for obtaining one of the recombinant proteins.

Mag. Simona Jevsevar, who works at Lek in the field of genetics and fermentation, has in her work with producer cells contributed solutions for the successful modification of genes for high expression of the desired form for recombinant proteins. An important part of her original solutions has also contributed to an innovative method for biosynthesis, through which the basic genetic material is obtained in a form which allows new procedures for isolation.

Dr. Vladimira Gaberc-Porekar has made significant contributions in the field of isolation. She works at the National Institute of Chemistry and has worked with Lek for many years in the framework of various projects. In the last few years she has worked intensively with Lek on a development project where she has made important contributions to an innovative comprehensive technology for obtaining recombinant proteins.

This press release contains statements and conclusions based on projections of Lek’s future business operations. These estimates are derived from the best information currently available. In case these forecasts prove unreliable, the actual results could prove different from those projected.

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For additional information, please contact: + 386 1 580 22 43 Katarina Klemenc Dinjaški, Lek’s Corporate Communications