MPI Research - A partnership with real chemistry

US-based MPI Research provides safety evaluation, discovery, bioanalytical and analytical services to the biopharmaceutical sector. Imaging centre director Scott Haller talks to World Pharmaceutical Frontiers about the group's new strategic partnership and molecular imaging centre.

Could you provide some background about the recently announced strategic partnership between MPI Research, inviCRO and 3D Imaging?

Scott Haller: We've had a long-standing relationship with inviCRO, having worked directly with them on multiple imaging projects for the last five to six years. 3D Imaging, who we've worked with for over a year, have been working with inviCRO for at least two years - again, on multiple imaging projects.

The partnership between all three companies is based, first and foremost, on the respect, trust and understanding that each partner has for the other, in terms of their specific area of expertise, and the personal relationships that we've already established.

We've all recognised a critical need for the industry to come together, bring our respective abilities, expertise and knowledge to bear, and drive development forward, primarily through the use of radiochemistry and molecular imaging, as well as sophisticated interpretation of datasets.

So it was a natural progression for the three companies to pool their resources?

Yes. It's something that came about without a lot of pushing or pulling from any one of the partners. We all saw this as an opportunity that we couldn't pass up - it certainly made sense - and were all willing to take a potential risk in developing a new facility to provide this offering. But, as long as we are all in this together, we certainly feel that we have a very high probability of success. And, more importantly, we can make a positive impact on drug development.

What benefits are on offer to drug developers and sponsors at the new molecular imaging centre?

One of the primary offerings of the facility will be radioisotope production capabilities of both long and short half-lives. I would say that the cyclotron is the biggest differentiator, as it allows us to produce radioisotopes suitable for both large and small molecules, and match our chemistry to the chemistry that is needed for that particular molecule under development; we can then study that molecule without changing its physical or chemical properties.

For example, consider carbon-11 - carbon is obviously a very common atom that can be incorporated as an imaging agent, or the radioisotope, into the vast majority of small molecules under development. This allows you to visualise and track the test article through the use of imaging platforms - either SPECT or PET imaging, depending on which radioisotope you are using - without changing the physical and chemical properties of the product itself under development.

That would be part of how we, as a collaborative scientific team, design the studies and our programmes, so that we provide customers with something that can really and truly evaluate their compound and desired pharmacology.

There appears to be a great sense of optimism surrounding the new collaboration?

Yes, there is. Aside from the obvious cost benefits involved and the scientific merits, we are ultimately trying to shift the development of drugs. We are helping sponsors get new therapeutics into the hands of the patients that need them most urgently - and much more rapidly than contemporary paradigms are allowing this to happen.

In our experience, many sponsors don't have the financial capabilities, or the scientific or professional expertise to put together a collaboration or an imaging centre such as ours. But if they partner with MPI, inviCRO and 3D Imaging, they now have an extension of their teams that allows them significant resources, technology and expertise, which can ultimately allow them to get products to market faster.

I truly believe that should be the intention of us as professionals in the healthcare industry - and the primary purpose of drug development.

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