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Our Science Our science

Our science

UCB's goal is to command a leading position in discovering and developing new therapies to treat patients suffering from severe diseases. With a promising pipeline, our focus is on neurological and immunological diseases to provide new treatments for specialists and their patients.

Drug development process

The discovery and development of new drugs is a lengthy and complicated process.

New drugs are selected from a range of many thousands of substances with the potential to treat the targeted condition. Fewer than one or two compounds per ten thousand tested actually make it to the market and are authorised for use in patients.

This graphic shows the traditional drug development process. In reality, this is becoming a complex and iterative process rather than a simple linear path, and while all the steps outlined below must take place, the sequence and cycles may vary.

Two types of drug

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New chemical entities (NCEs)

UCB develops two main kinds of medicine: new chemical entities (NCEs) and new biological entities (NBEs).

NCEs are chemically-derived, man-made and developed to treat a wide range of diseases. They are referred to as ‘small molecule drugs’ and often designed to be taken orally (as a pill).

New biological entities (NBEs)

NBEs may be defined as biological products such as proteins, peptides, antibodies, viruses and vaccines used to prevent or treat disease. Sometimes referred to as large molecule drugs. UCB specialises in developing antibody-based drugs, with a large molecular weight, which are most often administered by injection or infusion.

By connecting chemistry and biology in new ways, UCB is leveraging the potential of these two disciplines to advance new research.

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What's in a name

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A marketed drug may have up to four different types of name: a chemical name, a company name, a generic name, and a brand name.

  • The chemical name is based on the compound's chemical structure
  • When a new drug is in development, it is given a code to identify it within the company. For example, CDP870 is UCB's company code for Cimzia®
  • The generic name is commonly used to identify a drug during its useful clinical lifetime.
  • The company that patents a drug usually also creates its brand name, trade name or trademark. Drugs are often designated with a registered trademark, for example, Cimzia®, Briviact®, Vimpat®, Keppra®, Neupro®. A drug may have more than one brand name.

Open innovation

Stronger together

We believe sharing knowledge and expertise is essential for the rapid growth of scientific understanding. And that bringing innovative therapies to patients requires intensive cooperation.

That’s why we have teamed up with other leading companies across the pharmaceutical industry.

We have also developed a strong global network of internationally renowned scientists and academics, who collaborate with us in our drug discovery activities. We, in turn, are happy to share our own skills and experience with peers and with the academic world

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