Brussels, 08 Jun 2004
A Scottish biotechnology firm, CXR biosciences, and Edinburgh's Roslin research institute have teamed up with US bioscience giant Geron to develop a revolutionary new procedure that will reduce the need to test drugs on animals.
The three partners will grow human liver cells from stem cells for use before the animal and human stages in drug testing. If they succeed, this will reduce the use of liver-damage tests on animals, thus putting an end to unnecessary deaths and giving a more accurate picture of liver damage earlier in the testing process.
Considering that the liver is responsible for 60 per cent of drug testing problems, this would be a 'major breakthrough' explained a spokesperson for CXR.
'The guys at Roslin and Geron know all about stem cells, but we know all about the liver, so together we hope to be able to make this deliver,' said Dr Tom Sheperd, the CEO of CXR.
'The current market for testing of this kind is about 100 million GBP [150 million euro] worldwide, but we think that is quite small compared to what it would be if this works. It could result in every drug going through this test,' Dr Sheperd added. 'The product could be worth several hundred million pounds.'