On March 29, 2023, the Latvian Institute of Organic Synthesis (LIOS) celebrated the opening of its new Biotechnology facility. The two-story laboratory spaces are equipped with the latest research equipment for molecular and structural biology research, which will enhance LIOS’s capabilities and potential for discovering new drugs.
During the opening ceremony, Director of LIOS Dr. Osvalds Pugovičs stated that the development of biotechnology was a logical step forward to improve the existing LIOS drug discovery platform.
“This will significantly expand the institute’s research capabilities, ensuring a complete early drug discovery and research cycle, from design of active molecules to manufacturing technology development as well as wide range of pre-clinical tests,” he said.
Minister for the Economy Ilze Indriksone stated that the new Biotechnology facility is more than just a building.
“It symbolizes a commitment to continue developing world-class science, providing a healthier society with new drugs, and ensuring growth for the Latvian economy. It is a testament to the power of collaboration and the potential of smart specialists. However, the key to success is not only in the beautiful facade and the latest technology. The people who will work in this building are much more important. It will be LIOS’s talented researchers, scientists, and technical staff who will promote progress and create innovations for the transformation of the economy in the coming years,” emphasized Indriksone.
Minister for Education and Science Anda Čakša noted that the Institute of Organic Synthesis has always been a home for new socially significant discoveries made by our scientists’ persistence and determination.
“Scientific excellence, involvement of young scientists, students, and modern infrastructure opportunities create confidence in the future potential of discovering new drugs, which are essential in medicine. Let’s achieve success in science and strengthen collaboration with universities, finding unique solutions for Latvia and the world!” she said during the opening ceremony.
Before the opening ceremony, there was an opportunity to attend an academic lecture by Professor Virginijus Šikšnys (Vilnius University) on the development of biotechnology in Lithuania. In 2021, the biotechnology industry accounted for 2.5% of Lithuania’s GDP, and by 2030, the country hopes to increase this share to 5% of GDP.
The development of biotechnology at LIOS began in 2019, implementing an EU co-funded project “BioDrug” and attracting relevant experts, including Professor Emilio Parisini, the head of the Biotechnology group. Over time, the new research group has already integrated into the institute’s research structure and, thanks to the new spaces, will significantly intensify scientific activity. Scientists from the existing Physical Organic Chemistry laboratory at LIOS, led by Professor Kristaps Jaudzems, will also work in the Biotechnology facility.
In the 550 m2 large laboratory building, scientists will be able to obtain biologically significant proteins needed for rational drug development, protein biomaterials required for tissue engineering, and implement biocatalytic processes and early phases of bio-pharmaceutical development. Until now, performing these studies at LIOS was challenging due to various technological constraints.
The technical design of the new facility was developed by SIA “OZOLA & BULA, arhitektu birojs”, construction work was carried out by SIA “Torensberg,” and construction supervision was provided by SIA “Būves un būvsistēmas.” The construction work was carried out as part of the European Regional Development Fund project No. 18.104.22.168/17/I/007 “Development of the Infrastructure of the Latvian Institute of Organic Synthesis in the Smart Specialization Areas – Biomedicine, Medical Technologies, Bio-pharmacy, and Biotechnology.” In the Biotechnology facility, a total of 4.45 million euros will be invested, of which 3.40 million euros will be contributed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), LIOS will invest 390 thousand euros, the state budget will provide 480 thousand euros, and 180 thousand euros will come from other public funding sources.