AstraZeneca to collaborate on eco-friendly drug design

AstraZeneca is to work with the University of Exeter to pioneer research to improve effectiveness and safety of new drugs for patients – and the environment.

The pharma company is to co-fund research at the University of Exeter in south west England that will use zebra fish to study where in the body the pharmaceuticals act, and how they affect health. Because a significant proportion of all medications make their way into the environment, the research will also monitor the effect any potential new medicine will have on it.

The new alliance comes after AstraZeneca took the decision to close down its Environmental Laboratory in nearby Brixham in December last year.

The centre had been part of the company’s infrastructure since as far back as 1948, as part of AstraZeneca’s forerunner ICI. In recent years the centre has provided testing to assess the impact of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API) and other chemical by-products of pharma manufacturing on the environment, and to ensure processes meet regulatory approval.

The firm donated the centre to another neighbouring academic centre, Plymouth University, handing over the site last month.

Meanwhile four scientists formerly employed by AZ in Brixham, together with a further scientist from Sweden and two PhD students will all join the research staff in the University of Exeter’s College of Life and Environmental Sciences.

The new AZ programmes will take place in the £9 million Aquatic Resources Centre, one of the biggest centres of its kind in Europe.

Professor Nick Talbot, Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research at the University of Exeter said: “This innovative new partnership will strengthen Exeter’s reputation as a vibrant centre of ground-breaking ecotoxicology research.

“Our research is already making a difference across the world, in ensuring that we understand the fate of chemicals in the environment and how to help manufacture safe and environmentally responsible products.”

Steve Rumford, Global Head of Environment for AstraZeneca, said the partnership with the University of Exeter would build on the university’s global expertise in fish biology, and provide early screening tools to help AstraZeneca assess its development compounds.



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