The inclusion of collaborators, which will receive services under very favourable terms, is a first for Xceleron. Speaking to Outsourcing-Pharma Michael Butler, CEO of Xceleron, said that he believes this is evidence of GlaxoSmithKline’s (GSK) changing discovery culture.
Butler explained that GSK’s new leadership has recognised that “the days of big pharma relying on blockbusters and me too drugs are gone” and has adjusted its operations accordingly.
Big pharma’s discovery programmes must now pursue “unprecedented targets” in fields such as cancer, according to Butler. He added that this challenge has resulted in companies increasingly outsourcing to specialised companies and, in the case of GSK, including collaborators in the deal.
Xceleron will provide GSK with a broad range of services, including Phase 0, Phase I MIST (Metabolites in Safety Testing) and accelerated mass spectrometry (AMS).
These services will also be available to GSK’s collaborators. Butler expects collaborators to request use of services through GSK’s office in Ware, UK but details are still being worked on.
An AMS instrument has been added to Xceleron’s facility in the UK in response to the GSK deal, although Butler said the technology would have been added at some point even without the contract.
The deal is Xceleron’s second with GSK.
Rising demand for microtracer services
Butler said that there has been a “tremendous improvement in demand for Phase 0” over the past 9-12 months and an even bigger increase in requests for Phase I microtracer services.
This increase in demand can be attributed to three factors, according to Butler. Firstly, the challenges facing pharma, and the new leadership’s desire to overcome them, have led to companies seeking alternative methods.
In particular Butler believes the need to reduce Phase II attrition has led to companies using microtracer services. Furthermore, people now have a better understanding of what microdosing can do and this has overturned pharma’s initial reluctance to use the technique.
Finally, Xceleron’s establishment of a US office has helped increase demand. Butler explained that this time last year Xceleron was working with or talking to three of the top 15 innovative pharma companies. Now, following the establishment of its US office, this figure is 14 out of 15.
Butler added that these services, and the others provided by Xceleron, are not the answer to all pharma’s problems but they can play an important role in improving some aspects of drug development.