Belgian biopharma firm UCB has this week selected ZoBio to provide ligand screening services for some of its targets in the field of fragment-based drug discovery. ZoBio will undertake this task using its proprietary Target Immobilized Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) Screening (TINS) technology. According to ZoBio, TINS is capable of" rapidly generating high affinity, high specificity lead compounds with optimal drug-like properties" and allows "fragment-based screening of a much broader array of targets than competing technologies." Charles River Laboratories has been chosen by Akesis Pharmaceuticals to perform a 28-day renal-focused safety and toxicology study for its lead product candidate, AKP-020. AKP-020 is a novel vanadium-containing compound that is being developed as a treatment for patients with Type II diabetes and, according to Akesis, "has shown considerable potential". "Charles River's expertise in managing good laboratory practice (GLP) research studies is important to our ability to cost-effectively advance our drug candidates," said Jay Lichter, president and CEO of Akesis. Meanwhile, Charles River has now completed the previously-announced joint venture with Shanghai BioExplorer, resulting in a new company called Charles River Laboratories Greater China, Preclinical Services Shanghai Company, in which Charles River will own a 75 per cent stake. Through this company, "we embark on the first phase of our initiative to become the leading global contract research organisation (CRO) providing regulatory-compliant preclinical services in China," said James Foster, chairman, president, and CEO of Charles River. The newly-built Shanghai facility is expected to open in the second half of 2008. In other news, University of Queensland-based preclinical CRO, TetraQ, has announced it is now recognised to provide internationally-accredited testing services to the Australian biopharma industry, after having received GLP certification from the National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) for one of its key laboratories. TetraQ's absorption, distribution, metabolism and elimination (ADME) laboratory's bioanalytical work will now be accepted internationally for regulatory review, meaning that new drugs being developed in Australia can be analysed there, rather than being sent off-shore, said TetraQ's executive director, Professor Maree Smith.