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Almac Group Wins Excellence in 'Innovation' Category at the Tenth annual Belfast Telegraph /BMI Northern Ireland Business Awards


4/7/2010 12:40:26 PM

Accolade is testimony to the discovery and validation of new pioneering biomarkers in the filed of personalised medicine by Almac’s Diagnostics division.

Almac, the Craigavon based, international integrated contract development and manufacturing organisation, has won the 2010 Belfast Telegraph / BMI Northern Ireland Business Award for ‘innovation’ – also receiving a commendation in the ‘exporting achievement’ category.

Almac received the award largely in recognition of the innovative and world leading ‘personalised medicine’ work undertaken by its Diagnostics division, using Formalin Fixed Paraffin Embedded (FFPE) samples for molecular analysis of DNA and RNA profiling. This novel technique opens up the possibility of retrospective analysis of samples, greatly aiding the discovery of genomic biomarkers, and ultimately helping to create therapies that are more effective for individual patients.

One of the main challenges faced in the discovery and validation of biomarkers is the availability of suitable human tissues for analysis. Standard clinical practice involves storing biopsy/surgery tissues as FFPE samples. This common procedure has been in use for decades and it is estimated that worldwide there are hundreds of millions of tissue samples stored in this manner. However, the problem until now has been that tissues stored in this way are not well suited to molecular analysis (i.e. DNA and RNA profiling).

In response to this, Almac has developed a range of proprietary tools, which have been optimised to allow molecular profiling of these difficult to work with, but highly valuable FFPE tissues. These Cancer DSA® (Disease Specific Array) research tools are the first high-density microarrays to focus on the transcriptome of a particular disease.

So far, Almac has created DSA® research tools for breast, colorectal, ovarian, lung and prostate cancers. These contain the most comprehensive information available for the disease under investigation on a single array and enable generation of robust data from FFPE and frozen samples, whilst delivering additional information on the disease setting.

The unique combination of Almac’s proprietary DSA® research tools, optimised reagents, kits and processes, and internal expertise were factors that contributed to Almac securing the award.

“All three finalists demonstrated an outstanding aptitude for designing innovative products pertinent to their market sector. Each organisation has successfully nurtured a culture of innovation, the success of which is reflected in market growth and ultimately their bottom line. The judging panel agreed that Almac’s depth of understanding of the industry and technology available made it a worthy winner”, said Brenda Morgan, BMI Northern Ireland Sales Manager and member of the judging panel.

Commenting on the award Almac’s Diagnostic President & M.D., Professor Paul Harkin said: “This award is a tremendous tribute to the innovative work being progressed at our Diagnostics division. Almac is committed to driving research and development, both internally and with partners, to enhance personalised medicine. It is our goal to become a global leader in the delivery of personalised medicine.”

About Almac Group:

Almac is a financially stable, privately owned organisation with over 30 years experience. It provides integrated development solutions to over 600 customers worldwide including all the world leaders in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology sectors. Their services include R&D, translational genomic services; API manufacture; formulation and analytical development; clinical trial supply and technology (IVRS/IWRS/ePRO) and commercial-scale manufacture and packaging.

The company has over 2,600 employees and is headquartered in Craigavon, Northern Ireland, where it was awarded “Business of the Year 2009”. US operations are based in Pennsylvania, North Carolina and California. Construction of the company’s new $120m North American Headquarters in PA started in July 2008 and will be completed in 2010. For more information about the Almac Group, please visit www.almacgroup.com or e-mail info@almacgroup.com


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