MCI Livetalk with Entrepreneur and Biochemist Friedrich von Bohlen und Halbach as Distinguished Guest Online at the Entrepreneurial School®.
The pharmaceutical industry comes from chemistry, but the latest achievements in biotechnology, such as the use of mRNA in vaccines, as we all now know from some of the Corona vaccines, will lead medicine and healthcare to the greatest transformation since the invention of the microscope in 1680, explains von Bohlen und Halbach. With a PhD in neurobiology and Managing Partner & Co-Founder of dievini Hopp BioTech Holding GmbH and CEO & Co-Founder of Molecular Health GmbH, he knows what he is talking about.
Even at a young age, he was convinced that biology was a better answer to drug development than chemistry. The innovation in health care now lies in molecular research, which means that preventive medicine is increasingly coming to the forefront, but also that diseases can be understood at the molecular level.
Von Bohlen und Halbach is convinced that Germany needs to invest in this area if it is not to lag behind the rest of the world in this transformation. The Federal Republic of Germany has long since lost out in the race against the USA, he reckons. He sees the cause in culture. While it is common practice in the U.S. to found companies and invest in them, the corporate culture in Germany is losing its appeal. The fear of failure or the financial risk is too great, whereas in the U.S., failure is seen as a source of learning.
But it is precisely this culture that would be needed in Germany, but also throughout Europe, in order to survive in international competition. After all, inventions in molecular biology urgently need financing through equity. "When developing drugs, you need at least EUR100 million as start-up capital," von Bohlen und Halbach explains the market. German funding programs are not set up for such sums, and so the market cannot keep up here.
mRNA as a milestone
"The revolution now is actually to understand healthy and sick in a completely new way," explains von Bohlen und Halbach. He also calls this phenomenon a 'molecular revolution'. This is because molecules are being found and their effects researched through molecular research.
"Informatics in the life sciences will not replace people - but a doctor who cannot use artificial intelligence (AI) will be replaced in the future by doctors who can," he explains further. As an example, he uses a computer-based modeling to explain the course of the coronavirus disease. This modeling can be applied to any disease, to better understand the disease and develop drugs specifically for it.
mRNA is the first biomolecule that can transmit information - for example, information from viruses - and thus transports the necessary proteins that are required by the body for immune defense. Von Bohlen und Halbach is convinced that the technical equipment will make it possible to react more quickly to mutations in the future. The possibility of setting up mRNA printers that can produce the molecules directly on site will also help to fight infections more quickly locally. Summed up, the goal in health care is to fight disease and improve quality of life. However, we don't have to worry about that if we keep destroying the world. We all have to tackle the climate crisis together in order to tend to health care.