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Zurich, Switzerland, 20 December 2001 – Tecan, a leading player in the fast-growing Life Sciences supply industry, today announced the implementation of Early Access Programs for its groundbreaking LabCD technology. The LabCD is a consumable microfluidic disc that enables biological processes to be studied on a very small scale. By integrating complex biological processes onto a simple, low-cost microfluidic disc that employs microscale fluid paths, reaction chambers, and passive valves, the LabCD, with its associated instrumentation and software, enables researchers to obtain critical data at a much earlier stage in the drug discovery process. This high throughput solution significantly reduces the time and costs needed for drug development.
Out of more than ten requests to participate in the Early Access programs, Tecan has selected five leading pharmaceutical companies as partners for the programs. As of today, Tecan has signed agreements with Boehringer Ingelheim and F. Hoffmann La Roche Ltd to evaluate the performance of the LabCD for drug discovery assays. The LabCD initially targets applications for ADMET (Adsorption, Distribution, Metabolism, Excretion and Toxicity) assays, which are currently a major bottleneck for biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies.
Robert Young, President of Tecan Boston, commented:” We are extremely pleased by the level of interest shown in the LabCD which clearly reflects the outstanding potential of this technology. For our Early Access Programs, we have selected leading international pharmaceutical companies that we believe will provide the technical feedback essential to guarantee the successful validation of our technology for drug metabolism and inhibition studies.”
The applications for the Early Access Programs focus on cytochrome P450 inhibition reactions and measurement of cytochrome P450 metabolism/inhibition using a fluorescent oxygen biosensor. Cytochrome P450 is a family of membrane-bound hemeproteins that play a key role in the oxidative biotransformation of drugs, and a variety of other xenobiotics (foreign substances) and endobiotics in the body. The inhibition of any of the cytochrome P450 enzymes by a drug is a marker for potential drug–drug interactions. The measurement of the rate and the extent to which a drug is metabolized by cytochrome P450 enzymes, as well as other drug-metabolizing enzymes, is key in determining drug efficacy or effectiveness.
Due to the high costs associated with drug development and the high rate of attrition during clinical trials, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies are making major efforts to integrate high-throughput ADMET studies in their drug discovery programs. Hence, in-vitro assays such as cytochrome P450 inhibition and drug metabolism constitute a critical step in determining the suitability of lead compounds or molecules as potential drug candidates. By providing validated miniaturized solutions while eliminating the need for compound-specific analytical processes for drug metabolism assays, the LabCD technology alleviates key bottlenecks in the drug discovery process.
The purpose of the Early Access Programs is to evaluate the performance of the LabCD for cytochrome P450 inhibition and drug metabolism assays at customer sites in an objective and unbiased setting. The studies should provide invaluable customer feedback as to the ease-of-use and suitability of the new technology. Each of the selected companies will evaluate inhibitors of three major forms of cytochrome P450 that collectively carry out about 80% of the cytochrome-P450-mediated metabolism of xenobiotics or foreign substances.
Emile Sutcliffe, Chief Executive Officer of the Tecan Group, commented: “We are extremely pleased to be at this advanced stage of implementation with one of our leading projects for drug discovery. The LabCD is an exciting technology with considerable potential in high growth markets of the Life Sciences.” Mr Sutcliffe added: “The LabCD is the first industrial-scale microfluidic platform that offers a complete solution, including logistics, protocols and reagents, for all the requirements of high throughput ADMET assays. Tecan will be developing further applications for the LabCD in its other business segments of Genomics, Proteomics and Diagnostics.”
The Early Access Programs for the ADMET applications are scheduled to be completed by the end of March next year. For these applications, Tecan intends to make the LabCD commercially available sometime towards the end of the second quarter of 2002.
Tecan (www.tecan.com) is a leading player in the fast growing Life Sciences supply industry that specializes in the development, production, and distribution of solutions enabling the discovery of pharmaceutical substances, as well as for genomics, proteomics, and diagnostics. Tecan clients are leading pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, university research departments and diagnostic laboratories. Founded in Switzerland in 1980, the company has manufacturing, research and development sites in both North America and Europe and maintains a sales and service network in 52 countries. In 2000, Tecan achieved sales of CHF 273.5 million (USD 162 million; EUR 175 million). Registered shares of Tecan Group are traded on the Swiss SWX stock exchange (TK: TECN / Reuters: TECZn.S / Valor: 707821).