DRUG delivery specialist Bio-Images is looking to set up a manufacturing centre near its head office in Glasgow that will allow the company to supply medicines used in large-scale clinical trials.
The centre will be run by the group’s fledgling Drug Delivery International (DDI) division, which develops ways of releasing medicine into the human body.
The move, expected towards the beginning of next year, will boost production capacity from just a handful of tablets to thousands of pills.
DDI is in discussions with a number of large pharmaceutical companies interested in licensing the Scottish firm’s technology, which can make drugs more effective through better delivery. For example, a pill taken before bedtime can be designed to delay the release of cardiovascular drugs until 5am, which is when most heart attacks and related events occur.
The firm hopes to seal at least one of these licensing deals within the next few months, allowing it to pay set-up costs of up to £1 million from internal cash flow.
Alternatively, DDI chief operating officer Carol Thomson said the group may seek a first round of venture capital to fund the manufacturing centre, which will initially employ three people but could grow to 15 within five years.
“All eyes are on expansion,” said Thomson, “and we have already seen significant growth over the past three years.”
The group, which includes the profitable Bio-Images Research division, has seen sales grow from £420,000 in 2009 to £1.6m last year. DDI, which was set up 18 months ago, expected to make its maiden contribution to profits this year.
The research arm uses a technique that allows scientists to see exactly when and where a drug is released in the body. The “Panadol Advance” TV adverts in 2009, which show the drug breaking down in the stomach more quickly than regular paracetamol, were derived from the work of Bio-Images.
“We are looking to tap more into the marketing side of things,” Thomson said.
Meanwhile, further innovations are under development, including a “sustained-release technology” that is not affected by factors such as food or exercise. Bio-Images aims to have this patented in time for launch at October’s meeting of the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists.
Work is also at an advanced stage on technology that will only release drugs in the large intestine, which could aid in the treatment of illnesses such as ulcerative colitis.
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