Hennadii Illich, please tell how long you have been involved in professional activities and how long you have been dealing with medical nanobiotechnology?
I became interested in pharmaceutical development more than 30 years ago when I was a student. I have been working in experimental laboratories that develop medicinal products for more than 20 years. My teacher, Yurii Mykhailovych Krasnopolskyi, was one of the pioneers in the application of nanotechnology in pharmaceutical practice. I started working on the projects in Kharkiv, at Biolik, where I was engaged in developing interferon in the form of liposomes used in antitumor therapy. The fact that therapeutic dose of interferon in the formulated drug was three times less than in conventional drugs made it possible to significantly reduce side effects. Moreover, a smaller amount of active substance produced an economic effect.
What are the benefits of liposomes?
There are many of them. Most importantly, they allow achieving maximum efficiency because they act with targeted accuracy, affecting those cells, organs and systems that need such effect. Liposomes are similar to natural cell membranes and do not cause adverse reactions if the components are correct. They are not detected by immune system on the way towards “destination”, and therefore, do not cause allergic reactions and other attacks of body defenses. Changing the size of liposomes, we can use them to deliver a variety of pharmacologically active substances.
In short, I have devoted my entire pharmaceutical life to liposome!
You have been employed at Farmak for 12 years. How did the cooperation start?
Actually, it started from the development of liposomal medicinal products: L’Esfal, an injectable drug that acts as a hepatoprotective agent on the basis of essential phospholipids, and Efial, a brand drug for wound healing on the basis of biologically active substances of animal origin – low-molecular-weight peptides. Farmak started developing these medicinal products taking into account their relevance.
Is this where your considerable previous experience proved to be useful?
Experience is a good thing, but development requires teamwork. It also depends on the scientific potential of Farmak as a whole, which is equal to the potential of the leading European companies and manufacturing facilities of other countries with developed pharmaceutical industry. In our development activities, we follow the European and American standards, thoroughly study the composition of brand drugs, work out every technological parameter, scale processes. We pay great attention to manufacturers of APIs and excipients, etc. So, the credit goes to everyone – technologists, analysts, R&D staff, logistics staff, those who work in the clinical research department, project managers and others. Development is always teamwork because this process requires a huge amount of knowledge that cannot be covered by one person.
Your doctor’s thesis in which you explored the technology of liposomal drugs manufacture is one of the theoretical results of the tremendous work done. What do you think should be considered the most important practical result? And what is the extent to which this result is unique for the domestic market?
Our work on Efial and L’Esfal gave us knowledge of not only how to make liposomes and introduce active substances into them, but also how to fully control the whole process and be confident in the stability of the medicinal products. This is a very complex process that takes place at the molecular level. This explains why there are not many countries in the world working on such biotechnological solutions. Our company is the only one in Ukraine which currently works on the development of liposomal drugs.
What is required to create a team capable of such achievements?
Probably, you need to have the same excellent skills in selecting professionals as the HR Director Service and other management representatives, and give them opportunities. For instance, the state-of-the art analytical and technological equipment from leading manufacturers is an example of such opportunities for developers. We have the opportunity to develop modern technologies. Even if some research that needs developing is not possible in our country, it will be definitely conducted abroad. Trust, which is the management’s belief that we will be able to achieve the goal, is undoubtedly another component of success.