Debiopharm invests over 30 million on innovation when its workforce jumped 33% in Valais in one year

Debiopharm Research & Manufacturing (Debiopharm) to invest 30 million Swiss francs in an Innovation building that will host some 2400 square meters of research laboratories, in Martigny where its workforce jumped from 150 to 200 collaborators in twelve months.

Martigny, Switzerland – October 25, 2023 – Debiopharm Research & Manufacturing (Debiopharm) is pleased to announce the launch and first groundbreaking of the construction work for its Innovation building in Martigny, Switzerland. The ceremony took place with twenty guests, including Christophe Darbelley, President of the Valais State Council, Gaëtan Cherix, Director of the Valais School of Engineering (HEI), and Origène Nyanguille, Professor at the Institute of Life Science Technologies of the HEI.

Debiopharm invests in innovation in Valais

The pharmaceutical company is to invest over 30 million francs to develop innovation in Martigny, in addition to the 150 million already invested since the year 2000 to renovate the laboratories, modernize and automate the production plant which manufactures triptorelin, a treatment prescribed in over 90 countries. Triptorelin is an active ingredient effective against prostate cancer, breast cancer and precocious puberty. Over a 25-year period, Debiopharm will have invested over 7 million francs per year in the Valais.

“We are investing substantial resources in the development of targeted treatments for oncology, a strategic direction that complements our research into new antibiotics,” confides Thierry Mauvernay, President, and Managing Director of Debiopharm. “We channel over 90% of our revenues back into innovation, and our ambition extends beyond cancer treatment to the cure of cancer, which is accomplished through therapies aimed at tumor cells, whilst protecting healthy cells.”

The sum of 30 million will finance the construction of a new eighth building, exclusively designed for Innovation, and built in accordance with the most current environmental standards. The two-year construction project will yield a four-story building with 2400 square meters of usable floor space. The facility will house state-of-the art R&D laboratories dedicated to cutting-edge oncology research, with the formulation of products that combine active molecules and targeting agents.

This will enable Debiopharm to expand its research and innovation activities in the Valais region, where it has recently experienced extremely strong growth, which is set to continue. Over the last twelve months, the company’s headcount in Valais has jumped by 33%, from 150 to 200. “In the space of a year, we have taken on more than 50 new employees,” comments Cédric Sager, CEO of Debiopharm Research & Manufacturing. “One third of them have transitioned to the production sector, while the remaining two thirds, consisting of highly skilled technicians and researchers, have joined the research laboratories.” Over the next five years, Debiopharm intends to recruit several dozen additional employees, with more than a third of them focusing on research and development activities.

Valais-based research has yielded two new promising cancer technologies that could be applied in clinical trials as early as next year

With the new hires, Debiopharm intends to encourage internal innovation and feed the pipeline of innovative treatments in targeted cancer therapies, a primary area of its research focus, with the remaining efforts dedicated to the discovery of new antibiotics. This scientific and medical ambition is reflected in the makeup of its Valais workforce, where nearly half of Debiopharm’s employees hold university degrees.

Following ten years of dedicated research, Debiopharm has developed two groundbreaking cancer-fighting technologies that have not only demonstrated their efficacy in preclinical trials but have reached an advanced development stage. The first, MultilinkTM, was developed in-house, while the second, AbYlinkTM, emerged from a fruitful collaboration with the HES-SO Valais-Wallis, a valued partner of Debiopharm for 25 years. As early as next year, Debiopharm will initiate clinical trials using these two innovative processes for a range of anti-cancer products within its pipeline.

Debiopharm made another significant move in early October by entering a new research collaboration with HEI’s Institute of Life Science Technologies, committing a substantial 1.1 million francs in funding. The aim of this new project is to revolutionize the preparation of therapeutic conjugates that specifically target and destroy cancer cells, while preserving healthy cells. These conjugates combine a targeting agent with a therapeutic molecule, using innovative technologies referred to as Antibody Drug Conjugates (ADCs).

About Debiopharm Research & Manufacturing

Debiopharm Research & Manufacturing manufactures treatments for prostate cancer, breast cancer and precocious puberty, namely at its Martigny facility, where it employs two hundred people. It is a subsidiary of the pharmaceutical company Debiopharm, headquartered in Lausanne, Switzerland. Debiopharm is essentially an innovative company, devoting over 90% of its resources to innovation and the development of new drugs. Its mission is to develop innovative therapies that target high unmet medical needs in oncology and infectious diseases. Bridging the gap between disruptive discovery products and real-world patient reach, we identify high-potential compounds and technologies for in-licensing, clinically demonstrate their safety and efficacy, and then select large pharmaceutical commercialization partners to maximize patient access globally.

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History of the public-private partnership supporting innovation between Debiopharm and the Institute of Life Science Technologies of the HES-SO Valais-Wallis between 1999 and 2023

• 1999: collaboration to set up analytical methods for characterizing polymers and their interactions with various active ingredients

• 2007: collaboration on the synthesis of biocompatible polymers for drug delivery applications

• 2010: donation of research equipment from Debiopharm to the Institute of Life Science Technologies’ Peptide synthesis, equivalent to one million francs

• 2011: collaboration for research and discovery of new active ingredients against cancer

• 2018: collaboration to develop a technology for the conjugation of cytotoxic agents (or other entities) to therapeutic antibodies

• 2023: collaboration within HEI with the Debiolab 2.0. research laboratory to develop new targeted technologies for antibody fragment vectorization, financed by Debiopharm for 1.1 million francs