Nanostream has said it has now entered the drug discovery services market with a new offering that provides assay development services for screening laboratories. The firm said the decision was based on "the growing need for pharmaceutical and biotech companies to outsource costly aspects of the drug discovery process, including assay development, optimisation and qualification". "Assay development is a critical area that is typically time and labour intensive with traditional methods often yielding ambiguous results," said Nanostream CEO Stephen O'Connor. The company said it uses a separation-based assay detection technology, the Nanostream LD system, throughout the entire screening process - from target characterisation through lead optimisation - to develop a variety of "challenging" assays including kinase, lipid-modifying enzyme, and protease assays. According to the firm, the technology allows "direct measurement of enzyme activity and rapid IC50 determination... We can develop our customers' most difficult assays and deliver qualitative and quantitative data results in a rapid timeframe". As part of Nanostream's entry into the drug discovery services market the company has recruited a chief operating officer with experience in this field, Dr Jonas Ekblom, to oversee the management of the organisation. Meanwhile, Covance has launched a pharmacokinetic service that uses a compound screening tool that it claims is the only in vitro method that can predict drug-induced effects on the liver in vivo, and thus improve candidate selection. The firm said it is now offering a "unique" technology called B-clear - a sandwich-cultured hepatocyte system that provides in vitro assessment and in vivo prediction of hepatobiliary disposition, including hepatic uptake, hepatic accumulation, biliary clearance and drug transport - and is the only North American CRO to have such a capability. "B-clear is distinct in ADMET [Absorption, distribution, excretion, metabolism, toxicity] because it gives researchers the ability to generate physiologically-relevant data that can enable decision making in pivotal areas related to hepatic transport and drug-induced hepatic injury," said Richard Ridgewell, associate director of drug metabolism services for Covance. Services using the technology are currently being offered with primary human hepatocytes and primary rat hepatocytes for hepatobiliary disposition and hepatic transport studies and services using nonhuman primate, canine and mouse hepatocytes should be available later this year, indicated Covance. The new capability adds to the firm's already existing metabolism and pharmacokinetic service offerings.