Scottish start-up to build imaging business

Related tags Medicine Schering

Scottish start-up PharmaImaging will begin providing gamma
scintigraphy imaging services to companies involved in Phase I drug
development in early 2004, with PET facilities coming on-line later
that year.

A company has been set up in Scotland to provide medical imaging services to companies involved in drug development, as well as diagnostic services. The firm, called PharmaImaging, says it is planning to build one of Europe's most advanced medical imaging centres.

The start-up will employ 250 jobs and is backed with a £2.75 million (€4m) government grant and funding from pharmaceutical companies GE Medical Systems and Schering Health Care.

The company is developing in two stages, with a pharmaceutical clinical research facility providing gamma scintigraphy opening in the first quarter of 2004. This will be expanded to include PET imaging research capabilities in the last quarter of 2004 from a purpose-built facility, according to the company.

Aside from the core drug trialling business, PharmaImaging will also manufacture diagnostics under licence to Schering and build a private health clinic offering medical imaging services to patients outside the UK National Health Service, according to chief executive Keith McKellar.

A commercial supply of Schering's Flucis (FDG; one of the most commonly used radiotracers for PET imaging) and a multi-modality imaging centre for both research and outpatients will be ready in the first quarter of 2005. GE will supply the medical imaging equipment.

The company's manufacturing facility will produce PET and gamma radio-isotopes for labelling drugs and new chemical entities for investigation in Phase I clinical trials.

Although widely developed in Europe and the USA, PET imaging is in its infancy in the UK. The technology relies on the injection of a radioactive tracer to investigate changes in metabolic processes in the body. These changes can indicate the presence of disease before they can be detected using conventional imaging techniques.

PharmaImaging said that its agreement with Schering to manufacture Flucis would provide a revenue stream to support the growth of the other parts of its business. The licence with Schering is for five years, staring in 2005.

In August, Schering formed a joint venture in the UK with Belgium's IBA SA - UK Radiopharma - to supply FDG to the NHS and private healthcare sector.

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