In an event that was attended by government officials, prominent scientists, academics, and company leaders, Pfizer today inaugurated its Center of Excellence in Precision Medicine (CEPM, for its acronym in Spanish). The center, one-of-its-kind in Latin America, will initially focus on validating new technologies of molecular cancer diagnosis that are more exact and less invasive.
"CEMP is the result of a joint effort between the Chilean government and Pfizer, at a global and local level, which showcases our mutual interest in raising the level of applied science done in our country, and in promoting Chile as an innovation hub in terms of R+D,” said Pfizer Chile General Manager Carlos Murillo.
The Center has the support of the Chilean Economic Development Agency’s (Corfo) program to attract international Centers of Excellence, which seeks to position Chile as a hub for research, development and innovation in the region. In this context, Corfo will provide co-financing of USD$7 million, over a period of four years, which added to the USD$14 million from Pfizer, make up a total investment of USD$ 21 million required for the Center’s development and operations.
"In Chile, we have very good scientific productivity; however, we have not been able to transform that knowledge into actual products and services that improve both the productivity of industries and the quality of life of people. By developing this type of strategic partnerships, we will be able to further our country’s capabilities for research, development, and innovation of excellence, as well as position Chile in the map of innovation centers at a regional and global level,” said Marcela Angulo, Corfo’s Manager for Technological Capabilities.
Breakthrough research in oncology
In its first stage, CEPM’s research will focus on the field of lung oncology, seeking to validate new technology platforms for molecular diagnostics based on next-generation genomic sequencing.
"Non-small cell lung cancer, which we will be analyzing at CEPM during its initial phase, has a high incidence in Chile and the region. In Chile, it is estimated that there are between 1,800 and 2,100 cases a year," said Sylvia Varela, President of Pfizer Oncology for Latin America. “At Pfizer, our priority is to develop innovative therapies that improve and prolong the lives of patients. CEPM, which opens its doors today in Santiago, illustrates that commitment in a very definite way. Precision medicine offers one of the best opportunities we have to develop medicines that have a greater positive impact on patients. The work that will be done at CEPM will be on par with the best and most renowned research centers in the world,” she added.
"Analyzing the DNA of a tumor is critical to understanding the disease and consequently adopting more effective and personalized treatment practices that provide the best results according to the patient's genetic information. For this task, the Ion PGM (Personal Genome Machine) was selected because it is a revolutionary DNA sequencer that uses next-generation sequencing technology to perform full analysis,” explains Roberto Mendes, President of Thermo Fisher Scientific Latin America, the Center’s technology partner, which invested US $3 million in its first project with CEMP. The studies conducted at CEPM will comply with the strictest protocols and international standards required for the approval of new technologies by international regulatory agencies. CEMP Executive Director Gloria Maldonado concluded the ceremony stating that "CEMP’s contribution to the national ecosystem is essential because it will allow us to share faster the results of our research with the hospitals and patients who need it most.”