Dr Farah Lamiable-Oulaidi: finding lifesaving cures for rare diseases

Published Jun 19, 2024

Dr Farah Lamiable-Oulaidi

Dr Farah Lamiable-Oulaidi is one of Wellington UniVentures newest researchers accepted into KiwiNet's Emerging Innovator programme. She leads the carbohydrate chemistry group at Ferrier Research Institute, a world-renowned research centre at Victoria University.

She's joined the EI programme to learn how to bring her research to market. The programme teaches academics the language of commercialisation, equips them with skills in market analysis, IP and securing investment, and expands their professional networks.

Sam Wojcik, Senior Commercialisation Manager at Wellington UniVentures, has been working with Farah and her colleagues at Ferrier to support commercialisation of their world-leading chemistry research.

Sam says, “Farah stands out as a researcher who never loses sight of the end-goal of her work: to improve people’s lives. She is learning to apply her deep research expertise to create practical solutions for patients with little hope.”

Farah’s group is researching new therapeutics for rare diseases for which no treatment currently exists. Only 5% of the 400 million people affected by rare diseases have an approved treatment option available to them.

This presents an interesting opportunity for drug development in New Zealand, says Sam.

“The small, highly engaged rare disorder community allows us to build relationships between patients, researchers, clinicians and industry. Through Ferrier and its partnerships, we also have the ability in New Zealand to manufacture new drugs on a large enough scale to supply a global – though small – patient population.

Farah’s team has recently been awarded $2 million in MBIE funding to research a cure into Krabbe disease, a rare neurological condition that usually shows up in the first months of life and results in death during infancy.

The hereditary disease is caused by a genetic mutation that results in the buildup of toxic fat in brain cells, leading to fatal brain damage. Farah’s group is developing new molecules that target the enzymes involved in the disease pathway, potentially leading to a cure.

Farah is passionate about creating innovative therapeutics that can improve people’s lives and is interested in the commercialisation process which funds drug development from lab to market.

She says, “I’m excited to learn the language of commercialisation and gain entrepreneurial skills that will enable me to translate my research into a successful pharmaceutical venture.”

Sam says that equipping Farah with a strong understanding of the commercialisation pathway for new drugs will pay dividends in the future, as she leads her Ferrier team to bring innovations in cancer, infectious disease and rare disorder therapeutics to market.

“The work Farah is doing will not only deliver benefits for patients affected by rare diseases and their families, but also for the entire New Zealand biotech ecosystem.”

Get in touch to find out more: 
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Sam Wojcik

Senior Commercialisation Manager

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