Taconic establishes rodent breeding unit in Edinburgh

22 February 2010

Taconic has announced the establishment of a specialized breeding facility in Edinburgh for the production of genetically modified rodents specially designed for drug testing.

The facility will be used for the development and production of the most technologically advanced drug screening models available to scientists today. The site is intended as the first stage in establishing a strong Taconic presence in Scotland.

Since 2005, TaconicArtemis GmbH, a German-based subsidiary of Taconic, has been working with its Scottish partner CXR Biosciences Ltd (Dundee, Scotland) to deliver novel, commercially viable, models that are more predictive of the pharmacokinetic and toxicological effects of candidate drug compounds and their metabolites in the human body. This work is supported by the Intermediary Technology Institute, dedicated to life sciences (ITI Life Sciences), which was formed as part of a flagship programme by Scottish Enterprise to help Scotland turn its world-class research in life sciences into commercial successes.

Based on the success of the programme, TaconicArtemis and CXR Biosciences have signed three commercial licences with ITI Life Sciences to allow them to co-commercialise a range of drug screening models and services developed using these new technologies More than 40 transgenic strains generated in this program are now included in the companies' transADMET programme.

Current preclinical models can be poorly predictive of absorption,
distribution, metabolism, excretion and toxicology (ADMET) in humans. This inability to translate animal results to humans is driven by profound interspecies differences in the levels and functions of proteins involved in ADMET, and is a major reason for development failure in the pharmaceutical and chemical industries.

The transADMET programme offers an improved preclinical means of predicting human ADMET response. In each model, key genes have been knocked out or replaced with their human counterparts  — improving the pharmacokinetic and safety assessment of drug candidates by yielding research results that are more predictive of man.

"Together, Taconic and CXR Biosciences are empowering investigators with sophisticated new tools that can revolutionize drug discovery and provide a strong competitive advantage," said Todd Little, President and CEO, Taconic. "Our new transADMET models will enable researchers to advance drug  discovery more effectively, minimize the odds of late-stage failure and improve time-to-market with viable new drug therapies."

"The ground-breaking transADMET models will transform pharmaceutical research and chemical safety assessment by allowing scientists to more closely reflect the human situation in preclinical studies, thereby reducing the likelihood of problems occurring later in clinical trials," said Tom Shepherd, CEO, CXR Biosciences. "The decision by Taconic to locate here to develop this platform with CXR will establish a unique world leading translational research capability in Scotland."

Rhona Allison, senior director of life sciences, Scottish Enterprise, said: "Despite difficult economic conditions Scotland's life sciences sector has continued to grow and develop in recent years. Taconic's investment in this specialized facility is a strong indication of continued confidence in Scotland as an excellent location for life sciences."

The transADMET program is the culmination of a five-year, US$13 million effort funded by ITI Life Sciences. CXR Biosciences validated the transADMET models, while TaconicArtemis served as the primary generator of the new models.


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