[Photo credits: João Rodrigues | CHIMERAVISUALS]
Sea4Us, a world-class biotechnological company dedicated to the research and development of marine pharmaceutical products and treatments for uncured diseases, from Portuguese marine resources, was labeled with the NOVA SPIN-OFF “stamp” (created to recognize companies created within Universidade NOVA de Lisboa innovation ecosystem) and selected as an example of an academic spin-off and a technological start-up considering the success and degree of innovation that its business represents, by Agência de Inovação de Desenvolvimento (ANI).
According to Pedro Lima, reseracher at NOVA Medical School and co-founder of Sea4US, the know-how previous and currently acquired in academia, like “ [the] intense investigation on the diseases of interest (for example, chronic pain types) led to the identification of the molecular protagonist on cellular/neuronal «malfunctioning» [and] (…) allowed to determine what are the differentiating clinical targets to pursuit” was the basis for R&D strategy at Sea4Us. This knowledge, however, has been empowered by the “close contact with the marine habitats (Sagres), mainly with scuba diving, [which] allowed to develop an underwater screening approach that is based on the biology of the species. Here, the pursuit is on the chemicals that are defenses against predators or other «tools» for competitive ecological advantage”, resulting in an «outside-of-the-box» approach in drug discovery and development that make Sea4Us’ solutions innovative.
The company looks for the future but does not forget its origins, as Pedro Lima reinforces “the consolidation of the cooperation with NMS is pivotal” and continues by saying that: “ It is essential that the Sea4Us program focused on the development of a new analgesic for chronic pain reaches to a milestone that will enable the out-licensing of a lead product within a two-year horizon”. By doing this, it will be possible to reinvest the revenues in even deeper research to develop new drugs from marine origin to tackle several unmet clinical needs.
At Sea4 Us, receiving this distinction is rewarding, as the co-founder explains: “The selection by Agência Nacional de Inovação and EY-Parthenon is a great burst for the moral”. This moment is also a time of evaluation and reflection because: “[it] means that the collaboration protocol between Sea4Us and NMS has a true value”, refers Pedro Lima. Finally, the researcher points out that it also time to thank the host institution: “It rewards the support of the NMS director and directive team. As a NOVA SPIN-OFF, we are glad to contribute to the prestige of our hosting University”.
In what concerns the future, being offered a distinction will surely open new doors as it “(…) raises the interest on what Sea4Us is developing (…) also in establishing new R&D collaborations and corporative relationships, opening new possibilities for company development and growth.”, concludes Pedro Lima.