The contract research organisation (CRO), which provides human tissue-based preclinical development services, made the comments after securing £265,000 in funding it will use to promote the potential benefits of the approach.
Foremost among these advantages, according to CEO David Bunton, is that modelling in human tissues rather than animals provides drugmakers with more accurate data on which to base ‘go’ or ‘no-go’ development decisions.
“We recently tested a promising new drug for asthma which had only been tested in animals the drug was totally ineffective in human lung tissues. This would not have been known until a phase II clinical trial when 20 to 100 patients had been tested, wasting time, effort, and upwards of £500,000 in clinical trial costs.”
These savings, coupled with the drug industry's need to quickly replenish pipelines as efficiently as possible, are driving demand for innovative preclinical technologies according to Dr Bunton.
“More and more companies, small and large, are realising that an initial spend during the non-clinical phase of development could save them millions in the long term.”
He also revealed that while “at present, human tissue research is still not something which the pharma and biotech community is required to do by law… we are seeing an increase in the number of requests from regulators for non-clinical human safety data.”
Biopta’s other plan for its new grant award, which was provided by the Braveheart Investment Group, TRI Cap and the Scottish Co-investment fund, is to use it to improve access to tissue samples by raising public awareness.
Bunton told Outsourcing-pharma that while Biopta has developed an extensive network to obtain fresh samples for preclinical development, securing “supply of tissues is, however, by no means easy."
He explained, for example, that tissues which could be used for research purposes are discarded every day because surgeons or patients are not aware of the potential benefits they can provide for preclinical research.
“The investment will help us to raise awareness of the work we do and the potential impact on development of safer medicines for everyone and help us prevent an extremely valuable resource being destroyed. “