Biotechnology lays the groundwork for the present and future of healthcare and drives the One Health approach

The health pipeline of AseBio includes 130 molecules for 150 indications being investigated by 40 national companies, with oncology as the majority area. Additionally, 47 AseBio partner entities are working on advanced therapies (more than 30 have capabilities for their complete development), and 43 partner entities are taking direct actions aimed at combating antibiotic resistance through various capacities.

Drug discovery
Rare diseases
Personalized medicine
Advanced therapies
Antibiotic resistance
Climate change
Animal health

On the occasion of World Health Day, celebrated on April 7th, the World Health Organization (WHO) warns that the right to health of millions of people worldwide is at risk. A global threat contributed to by climate change, pollution, land and ecosystem degradation, demographic challenges, increasing antibiotic resistance, or the rise of communicable and non-communicable diseases, among others.

Biotechnology has enabled significant advancements in improving and protecting people's health and is responsible for the extraordinary momentum it has experienced in recent years in areas such as advanced therapies, personalized medicine, advanced diagnostics, vaccine development, combating antimicrobial resistance, or the discovery of new drugs and therapeutic options that have revolutionized disease treatment.

Biotechnological innovations have laid the groundwork for the present and future treatment of many diseases, as evidenced by the fact that 68% of drugs currently in global development are biotechnological. Biotechnology has radically transformed the discovery of new drugs: over 300 biotechnological drugs have been approved to date for around 250 indications. Additionally, there are thousands of molecules in various stages of research worldwide aiming to find new therapeutic active ingredients or new applications for existing ones.

Focusing on Spain, AseBio's health pipeline includes 130 molecules for 150 indications being researched by 40 national companies. Of these, 42 are in non-regulatory preclinical phase, 31 are in regulatory preclinical phase, 24 in phase I, 34 in phase II, 14 in phase III, and five are nearing commercialization.

In terms of therapeutic areas, oncology continues to be the therapeutic area with the highest number of drugs being investigated in this pipeline: 33% (50 lines of research) of drugs, closely followed by the central nervous system area, which is the second area with the highest number of drugs in research and development in the national territory, reaching 27% (40 lines of research) of developments.

Spain is one of the leading countries in the field of advanced therapies

Advanced therapies are the product of scientific advances in tissue, cellular, and molecular biotechnology and are driving significant progress in improving people's health. They are key in areas such as cancer, neurodegenerative diseases (ALS, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's), cardiovascular diseases (stroke, ischemia), high prevalence diseases like osteoarthritis, or the more than 7,000 rare diseases that exist.

Spain stands out as one of the leading countries in advanced therapies, both in terms of scientific expertise and the number of clinical trials, being the most active in clinical trials across all types of advanced therapies, with over a hundred per year, as documented in the "Map of capabilities of advanced therapies in the biotechnology industry" in Spain prepared by AseBio. The Spanish biotechnology industry is present throughout the value chain of advanced therapy development and manufacturing. The map identifies 47 entities working in the field of advanced therapies, with 85% involved in cellular therapy, 60% in gene therapy, and 49% in tissue therapy. Over 30 biotechnology companies have capabilities for the complete development of advanced therapies: from the initial R&D phases to manufacturing, transfer, and distribution processes.

In this regard, 10 biotechnology companies have industrial production plants in all three types of therapies distributed throughout the national territory. By autonomous communities, the País Vasco ranks first (hosting six of these 10 companies), followed by the Comunidad de Madrid (two companies), and Navarra and Andalucía (one company each).

The Spanish biotechnology industry is a key player in combating antibiotic resistance

The excessive and inappropriate use of antibiotics has created multidrug-resistant bacteria that challenge healthcare systems. We are talking about one of the most pressing global health threats that could lead to more than 10 million deaths from antibiotic-resistant infections by 2040. Antibiotic resistance causes 4,000 deaths annually in our country and generates an additional healthcare expenditure of 150 million euros per year.

Biotechnology is essential in studying resistance mechanisms, designing new diagnostic methods, and discovering new antimicrobial therapies. And in the case of Spain, our biotech sector stands out as a key player in the fight against antimicrobial resistance, as indicated by the "AseBio Map of Capacities against Antibiotic Resistance".

The map reveals that 43 AseBio partners take direct actions aimed at combating antibiotic resistance through various capabilities. Most of these biotech organizations focus on human health, but a quarter of them also focus their activities on animal health or do so in a cross-cutting manner.

Human, animal, and environmental health: Biotechnology driving the One Health approach

In the current context, discussing human health without considering the environment is a mistake. The health of people, animals, and ecosystems is closely interconnected. As the WHO warns, around 60% of emerging infectious diseases worldwide originate from animals (both wild and domestic). Additionally, in the last three decades, over 30 new human pathogens have been identified, with 75% originating from animals.

Regarding the environment, nine out of ten people breathe polluted air every day, mainly due to the burning of fossil fuels. WHO forecasts warn that 3.6 billion people already live in "highly vulnerable" areas to climate change, which is expected to cause an additional 250,000 deaths annually between 2030 and 2050 due to malnutrition, malaria, diarrhea, or heat stress.

More than 1.6 billion people (22% of the world's population) live in areas without access to basic healthcare due to prolonged crises caused by droughts, famines, conflicts, and population displacement. Every year, 2 billion people lack access to clean water, and over 600 million suffer from foodborne illnesses.

Biotechnology, thanks to the cross-cutting nature of its innovations, is enabling significant advancements in protecting human, animal, and environmental health. Biotechnology provides solutions through plant genetic engineering, the development of new vaccines, the valorization of by-products from the food industry, new food sources, techniques for more efficient land use while preserving biodiversity, as well as biofuels and biostimulants, among others. These innovations allow for the reduction of carbon footprint in agriculture and the use of clean energy sources. In fact, in just over 20 years, thanks to biotechnological crops, 183 million hectares of land have been saved, and the Environmental Impact Quotient has been reduced by 19%.