By turning conventional pharmaceutical research on its head, the Norwegian biomarine company Hofseth Biocare has developed its own fast-track method for producing high-end health products.
In conventional pharmaceutical research, pharmacologists start with a disease and consider what sequence of events could be causing it. Based on extensive biological research, they eventually identify this biochemical process. The next step is to find something that interacts with the identified process – by disrupting or increasing it, depending on what is needed. To achieve this, they conduct test-tube experiments and embark on the protracted process of testing hundreds of thousands – if not millions – of random chemical compounds from a library of potential pharmaceuticals. This eventually results in the identification of hundreds of promising substances that have already been found to have desirable biological effects, known as “lead structures”. But most of these leads will fail to progress towards drug development due to all sorts of other failures: toxicity, poor absorption, etc. And that’s even before advancing to preclinical and clinical trials in animals and finally in humans – all of which will see more leads falling away.
Evidently, this is a lengthy, arduous and costly process with an intrinsically high failure rate. And it explains why Hofseth Biocare chose to explore and perfect the complete opposite approach.
Hofseth Biocare starts with the purest of natural raw materials: Atlantic salmon. Using its proprietary enzymatic hydrolysis process, developed over 12 years, it extracts non-GMO compounds – again natural. All the resultant lead structures are peptides, the smaller building blocks of proteins that are much safer for human and animal consumption than synthetic chemicals. In other words, instead of starting with the disease and working backwards, Hofseth Biocare starts with the compound. And because the peptides are all-natural, they can be tested directly in animal models. Hofseth Biocare’s researchers then look for biomarkers – for changes in the body of that animal that reflect known diseases. This could be inflammations or changes in proteins or gene-regulation – each of which has the potential to impact a disease.
This is how Hofseth Biocare discovered highly effective biomarkers in the compounds they developed from the purest Norwegian salmon. And then transformed these discoveries into high-end health products that improve cardiovascular health, treat iron deficiency or promote healthy weight-loss.
By taking the opposite approach to pharmaceutical research, Hofseth Biocare has succeeded in jump-starting the process by safely testing in animal models and thereby demonstrating efficacy in animal testing from the outset. Combined with the much lower toxicity of natural peptides compared with chemical compounds, this has led to drastically reducing the failure rate. The end results are highly effective compounds that quickly proceed to human clinical trials and then to market.
While other companies may claim similar successes in a lab setting in the future, Hofseth Biocare is in the enviable position of being five to ten years ahead of anyone else at commercialising this innovation.