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Scottish Life Sciences Firm Biopta Secures Second Round Of Funding

10/29/2010 8:14:01 AM

A Glasgow-based life science firm which assists global pharmaceutical companies with the development of new drugs is to significantly expand its research and development (R&D) capabilities and call for the greater use of human tissues in drug testing after securing its second round of investment in as many years.

Biopta Ltd, which was spun-out from Glasgow Caledonian University in 2002, has secured in excess of £265,000 in funding from Braveheart Investment Group, TRI Cap and the Scottish Co-Investment Fund and will use the investment to develop its unique human tissue testing techniques.

Biopta uses donated, residual human tissue collected from surgery to conduct non-clinical trials on new drugs. Testing of tissues such as skin removed during cosmetic procedures is seen to be increasingly valuable in the development of new drugs. Biopta is currently working with eight of the top ten major pharmaceutical companies on human tissue research.

It can cost c$1 billion and take up to 15 years to develop a new drug. One of the major issues facing the pharmaceutical industry is the high rate of drugs failing clinical trials, with current figures estimating nine out of ten fail to reach the market 1.

Much of this failure is attributed to an over-reliance on animal testing. Many companies are now turning to Biopta’s human tissue testing techniques which can bridge the gap between animal and human testing and prove vital in developing safe and effective medicines more quickly.

Biopta has helped many of its clients halt the development of drugs at an early stage by demonstrating they are ineffective or highlighting potential safety concerns, and in doing so has saved its clients hundreds of millions of dollars in development costs.

Dr David Bunton, Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of Biopta, said: “The commitment from our existing investors has come at an exciting time for our business. We enjoyed rapid growth in 2010 and will build on this by accelerating our development of new service areas. We believe there is no better model for testing human medicines than humans themselves and using surgical discard human tissue means hugely valuable material can be put to good use, rather than be incinerated.

“Our services are part of a growing trend towards the outsourcing of non-clinical research in the pharmaceutical industry, which is a global market of £4.5bn per annum2. 80% of our clients lie outwith the UK, primarily in North America, Europe and Japan and we see huge potential for growth in all these areas, particularly the US and Japan.

“Many companies will simply not allow products to enter full development until they have data generated from human tissue studies and this is where Biopta can help.

“We hope to build on recent activities to bring the development of safer medicines and the availability of human tissue to the forefront of public debate, as much more can be done to make tissues widely available to all medical researchers.”

Biopta completed its last round of investment in December 2008 when it secured £900,000 from the same group of investors, and has since concentrated a lot of its efforts on establishing a clinical network to provide ethically-donated human tissues.

Biopta also aims to use part of the recent investment to raise awareness, in both the medical and political arenas, of the need for greater use of human tissues.

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