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BTG and Gentronix Ltd to market novel Genotoxicity Testing System

BTG : 01 October, 2006  (Company News)
BTG, the global technology commercialisation company, announced today an exclusive three-year Marketing Agency Agreement with Gentronix Ltd (Manchester, UK). Gentronix, a spin off from the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology, was founded to develop and commercialise a genotoxicity testing platform devised by Dr Richard Walmsley (founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Gentronix).
Under the terms of the agreement, BTG and Gentronix executives will work closely to promote and establish sales of Gentronix’s proprietary genotoxicity testing product, GreenScreen.

GreenScreen is a yeast cell-based assay in which any genetic damage in the test cells caused by drug exposure results in an increased emission of green fluorescence from the cell in question. Genetic damage to the DNA in chromosomes is an important contributory factor in all forms of cancer and may also cause other diseases by changing the activity of genes. If a compound under test is not capable of causing genetic damage in the test cells, no increase in fluorescence is detected in the Gentronix system. GreenScreen is already being deployed in some companies, including J&J Pharmaceutical Research & Development, Belgium, where it has been used to predict the performance of prospective drugs in (more costly) standard tests required by regulatory authorities around the world.

Recent reports put the cost of bringing a new drug to the market at about £500 million, with some £160 million of this covering pre-clinical development costs. It is widely recognised that safety (toxicity) aspects or metabolic changes associated with drug candidates account for between 30 and 70 per cent of their failure rate in trials. Thus, testing drug candidates for their toxic potential (and susceptibility to metabolic change) is an important stage in the early phase of drug development, which resulted in a £1.5 billion spend across the pharmaceutical industry in 2002. It is estimated that a modest 12 per cent improvement in the weeding out of compounds with the potential for deleterious side-effects through toxic or adverse metabolic interactions could save companies as much as £180 million a year.

GreenScreen is presently under evaluation by several groups in the pharmaceutical industry. Due to its ease of use, low compound consumption, reliability, speed, low cost, and proven value in accurately predicting troublesome compounds (with over 2000 compounds tested to date), GreenScreen is providing an early-warning system for compounds which may have undesirable genotoxic properties. GreenScreen is being positioned as a medium throughput testing platform, which complements other drug development test systems aimed specifically at metabolic predictions.

“GreenScreen has been developed to address a major bottleneck in drug profiling at the early stage of pharmaceutical development,” said Peter McCulloch, CEO of Gentronix. “By providing an economical, quick and simple test which can be run on commercially available fluorescence detection instrumentation, we believe GreenScreen will help accelerate the prioritisation of candidate selection at a crucially early stage.”

Dr Mike Murray, Associate Vice President of BTG's BioPharmaceuticals Business Unit, commented 'BTG's interest in working with Gentronix stems from the robustness and proven utility of the GreenScreen system. It is great to add such a powerful technology that has a natural fit with other drug development technologies in our rapidly expanding portfolio. BTG will promote the system through its executives based in the UK, Europe, US, Canada and Japan, which alongside Gentronix's expanding executive team, will ensure a truly worldwide commercial presence for the technology.'
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