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Upstate, CXR Biosciences begin development of early-stage in vitro tox screening platform
June 2005
by Chris Anderson  |  Email the author
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DUNDEE, Scotland—Late last month, Upstate Group, a division of Serologicals Corp., and CXR Biosciences announced the two companies would work together to create an early-stage toxicology screening platform the companies believe will allow for more effective screening of drug candidate compounds. Steve Davies, senior director business segment management at Upstate, says the "medium-throughput" platform in development with CXR will help fill the needs of companies looking to conduct toxicology screening earlier in the discovery process.
 
The co-development deal is part of what Davies says is a multi-phase collaboration between the two companies, both of which have operations here. The first phase, which is nearly completed has been the development of a series of antibodies that both companies will make available to their respective customers.
 
"This was a nice simple project — the generation of antibodies," says Davies. "CXR has the capability to produce a lot of the antigens, the proteins in the tox area and we have the ability to generate antibodies form those antigens. We have placed those in our catalog to expand the small tox portfolio we already have."
 
Once Upstate has produced the antibodies, CXR in turn validates them to ensure researchers will get the reactive properties they desire for their experiments.
 
While this first phase is up and running now, there is real excitement among the two companies of the next phase, which would be the development of a battery of in vitro predictive toxicity and drug metabolism screens to help eliminate compounds or identify those worthy of continuing down the pipeline. And because Upstate anticipates greater throughput than is generally available today, it would allow companies to screen a larger set of compounds earlier in drug discovery process.
 
"As a significant part of the tremendous costs involved in drug development are expended on drugs that fail during the development process, not only should this platform improve the quality of candidate drugs entering the clinic, but it should also improve the cost effectiveness of the overall process," says Dr. Tom Shepherd, CEO of CXR in a prepared statement. "Perhaps most importantly, this platform is intended to reduce the time-to-market of critical new life-enhancing therapies."
 
At press time, no timetable had yet been set for when the two companies would make the screening platform available. The two companies were also in the very final stages of negotiating the exact terms of the working relationship, though Davies says the companies have a solid agreement in principal to move forward with development of the platform.
 
Once the platform is ready for the market, it will be offered as a service by Upstate, which will conduct the screening at its facility here. Once ready for prime time, Davies feels the company should be successful gaining business quickly from among its numerous biotech and pharmaceutical customers who use Upstate for its kinase screening services. According Upstate officials, the company currently captures more than three-quarters of the world's contract kinase screening business.
 
It will also have plenty of room for adding another contract service as the company earlier this year completed work on a new 14,000-square-foot research facility.
 
"There is a definite move within pharma to move this kind of screening to earlier in the process – to fail them earlier and fail them quickly," says Davies. "Having the attrition happen earlier as opposed to later can save a company a lot of money, millions of dollars, so we think there will be strong interest."
 
Code: E070511

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