AvantiCell seals Japan contract

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LIFE sciences outfit Avanti-Cell has broken into the Japanese market by securing a contract that the Ayrshire-based company hopes will open further doors for it in the Far East.

The firm, which already exports to China and Malaysia, said the six-figure deal was with a pharmaceutical company.

Jo Oliver, chief executive of AvantiCell, said: “We have achieved a number of small deals in Japan before now, but this service contract for isolating and testing cells is of a different order of magnitude.

“More importantly, the contacts we have made during negotiations with the companies involved have evolved into valuable relationships and already we are in discussions about other potentially attractive projects.”

The firm turned over £600,000 in the year to 31 March and Oliver is predicting “double-digit” growth in her current financial year.

AvantiCell specialises in extracting “primary cells” from animal and human tissues. These cells are useful for testing drugs because they continue to mimic the processes that go on inside the body.

Last month the company was part of a consortium that secured £4.7 million from the European Union to help develop an artificial pancreas, the organ involved in regulating blood sugar levels.

Other Scottish life science companies have also forged links with their peers in Japan.

ProStrakan, the Borders-based drug developer, was taken private in 2011 by Japan-based Kyowa Hakko Kirin (KHK) in a £292m takeover deal. KHK now uses ProStrakan to sell its products in Europe.