Jonathan Hunt, Managing Director and CEO,

SYNGENE INTERNATIONAL

"Syngene is currently piloting a relay-based drug discovery cycle utilizing all 24 hours in the day that we estimate reduces early discovery timelines by 12 to 18 months."

What are Syngene’s core services?

Syngene's operations are divided into four divisions. Within the R&D space, we have our Discovery Services and Dedicated Centers, which remain at the core of our operations. Additionally, we focus on scaling up our offerings in Development and Manufacturing services.

Over the past decades, we have become increasingly like our clients by integrating our services so we can act as a scientific equal and collaborator and have worked on becoming a platform for integrated drug discovery that allows us to partner with players of all sizes. Five years ago, our stereotypical customer was a big pharma company that utilized our services for one aspect of their molecule's lifecycle, whereas today our customer base is filled more with young start-up biotech companies that have small leadership teams and no infrastructure but are well funded. They are looking for more than just hands to do work; they value the scientific insights, scale, and technology we bring to their projects.

Can you elaborate on the rationale behind SynVantage, the company’s relay-based drug discovery process?

The primary economic asset in this industry is a patent, something that by nature decreases in value on a linear basis. Patents are typically for 20 years, and once patented it takes a molecule an average of 10-12 years to reach the market. This means the patent-holding company experiences an approximate eight-year return. I have always felt drug discovery and the Design-Make-Test-Analyze cycle should be amenable to process flow execution, such that we can significantly minimize the amount of time required drive a program through to candidate selection, and hence to the IND, both key milestones along the way to eventual product launch. If you can achieve in twelve months what typically takes twenty-four months, you have successfully added twelve months to the patent clock, thereby meaningfully increasing the period of economic value. This could lead to millions more in profit as well as improve lives for patient populations. Syngene is currently piloting a relay-based drug discovery cycle utilizing all 24 hours in the day that we estimate reduces early discovery timelines by 12 to 18 months.

How would you rate the current degree of collaboration within the life sciences?

The degree of collaboration within life sciences has been unprecedented, including academia, governments and regulators, and industry participants like pharma, biotech, and service companies. When we write this bit of history, it will remain astounding that we have not one, but multiple Covid-19 vaccines, and that millions of people have been vaccinated. Just two years ago, even industry insiders would have found this hard to believe. In the US there is a perception that pharma companies are overly profit-driven, yet industry members have proven the exact opposite. For example, AstraZeneca was not in the vaccine business at the onset of the pandemic, but the executive team decided to throw resources into developing a vaccine in a largely not-for-profit manner, understanding the global need. This is about as altruistic as a public company can be.

How important is the US to Syngene’s global operations?

The US market is strategically important for us, home to over 70% of our customers. Two of our most important relationships are with US pharma giants, BMS and Amgen, for whom we run dedicated research facilities in Bangalore. That said, pharmaceutical science does not happen on a national level. My immediate client may be a US company, but it is likely to have global scientific research teams.

What does the future hold for Syngene?

Syngene is well-positioned to meet our clients’ evolving requirements and capture market opportunities as they arise. In particular, Syngene has invested in expanding its biologics manufacturing and commercial manufacturing of APIs. The growing demand for outsourced biologics manufacturing and encouraging growth in the biologics business has encouraged us to continue building our capacity year-on-year. The API facility will strengthen our position as a one-stop solution provider across discovery, development and manufacturing. The facility has been designed as a state of the art, small molecule manufacturing facility to deliver NCEs and niche generics.

We expect to see these investments contributing to top-line growth of the company, taking Syngene from having two to four business drivers while establishing a balanced portfolio between the research and manufacturing sides of the business.