Cell Therapeutics seeks to offload preclinical unit

By Phil Taylor

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Pre-clinical development, Pharmacology

Seattle, US-based Cell Therapeutics Inc is looking at ways to reduce its involvement in a preclinical research facility based in Bresso, Italy, as it tries to cut costs.

The biotechnology firm said that a spin-off of the facility – which operates as Cell Therapeutics Europe Sede Secondaria (CTE) - could reduce its burn rate by around $14m a year. The Bresso facility was formerly NovusPharma, a spin out of Roche/Boehringer Mannheim, which CTI acquired in 2004.

The unit could make a good addition for either a contract research organisation (CRO) or pharmaceutical manufacturer, according to CTE president Dr. Christina Waters.

CTI already sells one product, the non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma drug Zevalin (ibritumomab tiuxetan), and recently formed a joint venture with oncology Spectrum Pharmaceuticals to boost the sales activities for the drug, which made $2.6m in the third quarter of 2008.

But at the moment the firm is still in the throes of bursting out of the development-stage company cocoon, and is still focusing a lot of resources on the development of Zevalin in new indications such as first-line treatment in NHL, and follow-up NHL drug pixantrone.

As CTI transitions from a research-based operation to a commercial drug company, it has been transferring resources to its U.S. sales and marketing operations​," said Dr. James Bianco, CTI’s chief executive.

"We are refocusing our resources on late-stage and marketed products, and as such, CTI needs to reduce its preclinical operations.​"

The Bresso lab employs 50 scientists and focuses on oncology research in the areas of target discovery, lead discovery and optimisation and preclinical development. Bundled with the sale is a range of internal drug development projects, including preclinical discovery projects but also compounds that have advanced to Phase II testing.

The facility is a “GLP-compliant research and development asset that has a proven track record in advancing molecules from discovery to clinic​,” said Waters.

CTI said it has engaged the services of a strategic advisory consulting firm, Adjuvant Global Advisor, to looking into “a partnership, asset divestment or joint venture​,” involving CTE.

Related topics: Preclinical Research, Preclinical

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