Several Russian companies have linked up to establish a joint venture designed to develop innovative treatments in the country.

The SynBio project has been initiated by the Human Stem Cells Institute (HSCI), Russia's leading biotechnology company, which will have a 28.1% stake in the venture. It has attracted investment from the government-owned investment company Rusnano, which will have a 41.4% holding and other Russian firms involved include Cryonix and Pharmsynthez.

The lead R&D partner for the project is the UK's Lipoxen, which is in the process of merging with Germany's SymbioTec. SynBio will focus on developing treatments based on three technological platforms, ie it will look at drugs engineered from cell-based technologies for the treatment of chronic diffuse liver disease, plus treatments based on the human nuclear protein histone H1 for cancer and other diseases.

Thirdly, SynBio will focus on "sustained-release drugs using polysialic acid", ie 'biobetters' for the treatment of diabetes, Alzheimer's, chronic kidney disease and a number of other conditions. The total budget for the project over the next four years amounts to around 3.22 billion roubles, roughly $113 million.

HSCI general director Artur Isaev said "it is difficult to overstate the importance" of the JV because "for the first time a Russian company is acting as the initiator of an international M&A project in the biotech sector to serve both the Russian and global markets". He added that Synbio is "an excellent example of how the government’s programme for innovative development of the Russian pharmaceutical sector can be implemented".