North­eastern Uni­ver­sity recently hosted top researchers, advo­cates and industry experts ear­lier this month for an engaging dis­cus­sion about the future of bio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, con­sid­ered by many to be the cut­ting edge of med­ical sci­ence in America.

Bio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, or bio­logics, are cre­ated from living cells and have been used to treat — and could poten­tially cure — some of the world’s most severe dis­eases, including cancer, AIDS and arthritis.

The event, spon­sored by the Mass­a­chu­setts Biotech­nology Council (MassBio), was held at North­eastern, in recog­ni­tion of the University’s lead­er­ship in working with the Food and Drug Admin­is­tra­tion (FDA) and the biotech­nology industry to help inform reg­u­la­tory stan­dards for approval of bio­logics and their suc­cessor drugs — known as biosim­i­lars — in the United States.

Much of Northeastern’s work in this area has taken place through the Bar­nett Insti­tute of Chem­ical and Bio­log­ical Analysis in the Col­lege of Sci­ence. Graham Jones, asso­ciate director of the Bar­nett Insti­tute and a pro­fessor and chair of the Depart­ment of Chem­istry and Chem­ical Biology, pre­sented at the event.

Jones said he expects a boom of inno­va­tion in this industry, and hopes that the work being done at North­eastern and else­where will keep America at the fore­front of bio­phar­ma­ceu­tical technology.

Bio­log­ical drugs are very com­plex, but given the phe­nom­enal power of modern ana­lyt­ical tech­nology, we are now able to ana­lyze these agents with pre­ci­sion,” Jones said.

Jones and other pre­sen­ters, from the Alliance for Safe Bio­logics, the biotech­nology firm Amgen and the Arthritis Foun­da­tion, dis­cussed the excite­ment of real­izing the poten­tial of bio­logics and biosim­i­lars. They also stressed the impor­tance of ensuring these next-​​generation drugs are prop­erly approved and made safe for patients through rig­orous clin­ical testing and regulation.

Bob Coughlin, MassBio pres­i­dent and chief exec­u­tive officer, offered wel­coming remarks and facil­i­tated the day’s dis­cus­sions. “It’s impor­tant that gov­ern­ment, acad­emia and industry all work together so we can suc­ceed,” he said.

Bio­logics are much more com­plex than reg­ular phar­ma­ceu­tical drugs, in that they are pro­tein based and made from living cells, rather than being chem­i­cally produced.

In March, North­eastern researchers trav­eled to the National Insti­tutes of Health to train FDA mem­bers on analysis of biopharmaceuticals.

In his role as chair, Jones has also intro­duced the first-​​in-​​the-​​nation pro­fes­sional sci­ence master’s pro­gram in reg­u­la­tory sci­ence.

The Office of Gov­ern­ment Rela­tions facil­i­tated Northeastern’s hosting of the event, in align­ment with the University’s focus on use-​​inspired research that solves global chal­lenges in health, secu­rity and sustainability.