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Sunday, 15 September 2013 22:00

MPI breaks ground on Imaging Center intended to speed drug research

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MPI’s William Parfet expects his company’s new Imaging Center will be able to set a new standard in the speed of drug research. MPI’s William Parfet expects his company’s new Imaging Center will be able to set a new standard in the speed of drug research. COURTESY PHOTO

MATTAWAN — Leaders of MPI Research, INVICRO and 3D Imaging have entered into a collaboration designed to accelerate the drug discovery and development process.

They gathered for a groundbreaking ceremony earlier this month on the future site of what leaders of all three companies are calling a world-class imaging center. The 10,000-square-foot, two-story facility will be located on property that is part of MPI’s campus in Mattawan. It is expected to open in mid-2014.

“We hope to break records in how quickly we can provide researchers with information about the efficacy of the drugs they’re developing,” said William U. Parfet, chairman, CEO and president of MPI.

MPI, Boston-based INVICRO, and 3D Imaging, headquartered in Arkansas, have already collaborated on more than 100 imaging projects. Parfet said the MPI Imaging Center will leverage the unique competencies and expertise of each of the three companies, including INVICRO’s molecular imaging informatics team and 3D Imaging’s radiopharmaceutical group.

The new facility will enable pharmaceutical researchers to have access to a cyclotron facility directly connected to a world-class vivarium, MPI’s enclosed area for keeping and raising animals for observation and research. This will permit drug radiolabeling, which is the incorporation of a radioactive element into a compound in order to investigate its metabolism, fate and utilization during testing.

MPI was founded 20 years ago to provide safety evaluation, discovery, bioanalytical and analytical services to the biopharmaceutical, medical device, animal health and chemical industries. Parfet said the Imaging Center marks a “significant milestone” in the history of the company, which has about 1,200 employees.

Terry McLean, Mattawan Village president, said companies such as MPI literally have unlimited options in where they can operate their businesses.

“Mattawan is always a great place to be but it makes it even better when we have opportunities like this,” McLean said. “This (Imaging Center) will bring worldwide attention to Mattawan.”

There is no other facility in the world with this type of capability, said Jack Hoppin, co-founder and managing partner with INVICRO.

“What we’re creating here is a big deal,” Hoppin said.

INVICRO is a five-year-old company founded with a mission to improve the role of imaging in drug discovery and development. It is the 372nd fastest growing company in the United States. Its software is being used by scientists at more than 25 of the top pharmaceutical companies, and it currently manages or supports more than a dozen pre-clinical and clinical imaging studies per month.

“We believe that the scope and quality of image data generated through this alliance will vastly accelerate drug discovery and development programs,” Hoppin said. “This will fill a void that is not being addressed anywhere in the world, and most importantly, will speed drug discovery and development programs to market.”

Licensed drug manufacturers will have the ability to conduct their pre-clinical and clinical trials under one roof, said Marc Berridge, president and founder of 3D Imaging. The company provides research services for the design and development of standard and customized radiopharmaceuticals and their formulation for imaging studies. Then it provides design and completion of multimodality imaging studies for drug evaluation in animals and/or human volunteers.

“This Imaging Center will take us all the way from the beginning of drug development all the way to man,” Berridge said.

The groundbreaking may have been ceremonial, but the collaboration of the three companies will be a boon to the industry in Michigan, said Stephen Rapundalo, president and CEO of MichBio, a trade association that represents the interests of more than 600 life sciences companies in Michigan.

“We don’t tell our story loud enough. It’s that Midwest modesty,” Rapundalo said. “Our contract research organizations are second to none. Having this kind of technology come on board will help it to grow extensively.”

Read 97935 times Last modified on Sunday, 15 September 2013 15:09

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