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New multi-million dollar GlycoSyn facility

Release from Industrial Research
Industrial Research opens new multi-million dollar GlycoSyn facility

26 March 2003


New Zealand’s potential as a high-value manufacturer of next generation drugs that target cancer and other diseases was signalled with the opening of a $7 million facility in Lower Hutt today.

Opened by the Prime Minister, Helen Clark, Industrial Research’s “Glyco Synthesis” facility was a tangible further step towards creating a knowledge-based economy, according to chief executive Nigel Kirkpatrick.

“This is an investment in a whole new industry for New Zealand,” he said.

“We’ve got world-leading expertise in aspects of pharmaceutical process development and manufacture. We need to capture full value from that expertise for New Zealand.”

The Glyco Synthesis facility built on the internationally renowned small molecule drug design and synthesis skills of Industrial Research’s carbohydrate chemistry team developed over the last 25 years, Mr Kirkpatrick said.

(“Glyco” is another term for carbohydrate or sugar.)

“We’re scaling that expertise up from the laboratory bench to small-scale manufacture.”

The decision by Industrial Research to invest its own money to build this facility was part of the company’s new strategy of involving itself more in the commercialisation of science and technology, he said.

“We’re investing in the ability to produce commercial quantities of complex, next generation pharmaceuticals, at a scale needed for undertaking clinical trials. These pharmaceutical components can be worth tens of thousands per milligram.

“Together with our own biological-based pharmaceutical facilities, the drug discovery expertise in our universities’ medical research departments and private industry, New Zealand can establish itself as a niche developer and manufacturer of trial quantities of the new “smart” drugs up to the point where they get approval for mass production.”

Industrial Research had already secured $12 million per year of business with multi-national pharmaceutical companies for producing components for anti-cancer drug trials from its existing BioPharmaceuticals operation, he said.

“We think this is just the tip of the iceberg,” he said. “The new facility will let us ramp this business up another level.”

One of the first major clients for the new facility is New Zealand company Antipodean Biotechnology Ltd who are working with New Zealand researchers and drug companies to produce mitoquinone as a treatment for Huntingdon’s disease and Friedreich’s Ataxia. No treatments currently exist for either disease.

The pre-clinical and clinical development of mitoquinone must meet the demanding standards of regulatory authorities in New Zealand and overseas, such as the US Food and Drug Administration.

Antipodean chief executive Ken Taylor said until now New Zealand drug discoveries had been handed over to others for development.

“Getting the project to clinical proof of principle stage in New Zealand delivers a range of benefits.

“It is less expensive to do the work here and more efficient to have the the pre-clinical work close to the source of innovation – people can talk to each other to resolve the technical issues that will arise.

“The step we’re adding here is also the one that contributes the most value to the product, so that’s important for New Zealand,” he said.


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