AstraZeneca Officially Opens Two Major Scientific Laboratories, As Latest Phase Of UK R&D Investment Programme
18 September 2006 - AstraZeneca announces the official opening this week of two major scientific laboratories in the UK. These latest developments add to AstraZeneca’s significant investment in the UK, with the creation of over 550 new science-related jobs over the last seven years.
Today’s opening highlights the largest single UK investment to date by the Company. At Alderley Park, Macclesfield, Cheshire, Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, Vice-President for Research, Manchester University performed the official opening ceremony for AstraZeneca’s Cancer Research Area Building, costing over £60 million. The event also incorporated a scientific symposium and was attended by several leading scientists and dignitaries. Tomorrow, a new Biology Building, costing £16 million, will be officially opened by AstraZeneca Chief Executive Officer, David Brennan, at the Company’s research site in Charnwood, Loughborough, Leicestershire.
AstraZeneca’s new Cancer Research Area incorporates ‘state of the art’, high-tech laboratories for 265 scientists, including bioscientists, chemists, specialists involved in drug metabolism and pharmacokinetics (DMPK) as well as mass spectroscopy and nuclear magnetic resonance. Research here contributes significantly towards the Company’s strategic goal to increase CD (candidate drug) output. The investment builds upon AstraZeneca’s successful heritage in oncology, including the discovery and development of important cancer medicines such as Nolvadex, Zoladex, Arimidex and Casodex.
The new Biology Building will provide capacity for up to 75 scientists, accommodating specialist laboratory facilities and equipment, enabling more enhanced integration of safety assessment with discovery sciences, across a range of several disease areas.
Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell said at the Alderley Park Opening Ceremony: “This is a world-leading centre of excellence for scientific research. AstraZeneca’s new facilities are important in helping to inspire future generations of scientists, from the UK as well as overseas, to consider a career which applies their skills and capabilities in a way which will benefit mankind, through the future development of advances in medical treatment for serious diseases such as cancer. AstraZeneca and the rest of the pharmaceutical industry makes a leading contribution to research opportunities for scientists in this country.”
David Brennan commented on the investments: “ Although AstraZeneca is a global company, the UK is a crucial base for two major R&D sites, at which we continue to invest in British science. Globally, we spend around $14 (£7.4) million each working day on R&D, across 11 R&D centres in seven countries. Our goal is to get life-changing medicines to patients as quickly, safely and efficiently as possible. Alderley Park is the largest facility within AstraZeneca’s worldwide R&D network and our oncology scientists have been responsible for significant advances in cancer therapy. This has resulted in huge benefits for patients throughout the world, as well as growth for the business.”
John Patterson, AstraZeneca Executive Director, Development, added: “Innovation is the life-blood of the R&D based pharmaceutical industry. Our new facilities will enable highly-qualified scientists to work in an integrated way, attracting and retaining talented individuals to careers in a challenging business that not only delivers benefits to patients, but also to the UK and global economies.
Leading edge science employed at the Alderley Park and Charnwood laboratories will help to identify new compounds with high potential as new medicines. It is important for AstraZeneca to remain at the forefront in adopting new technologies to pursue advances in medical treatment.”
AstraZeneca is a major international healthcare business engaged in the research, development, manufacture and marketing of prescription pharmaceuticals and the supply of healthcare services. It is one of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies with healthcare sales of $23.95 billion and leading positions in sales of gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, neuroscience, respiratory, oncology and infection products. AstraZeneca is listed in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (Global) as well as the FTSE4Good Index.
Notes to Editors:
AstraZeneca, as the second largest pharmaceutical company in the UK, invests heavily in R&D and contributes significantly to the UK economy. Based on 2004 financial data, independent economists have estimated that AstraZeneca creates around £1.5bn in Gross Value Added (GVA) directly (equivalent to £136,000 per employee, compared with £40,000 across the whole of the UK economy) and £2.5bn in total. This is equivalent of £1 in every £400 of GVA generated across the UK economy. The Company generated direct exports of £3bn in 2004 and total net exports (allowing for direct and indirect imports) from the UK of £2.1bn in 2004, which is equivalent to £260,000 per employee and 1 per cent of the UK’s total exports of traded goods. A more detailed report of AstraZeneca’s economic contribution to the UK and its regions will be published shortly.
The company continues its search for new and innovative medicines in all its therapy areas. A drug development pipeline featuring novel approaches to treatment, such as antibody-based therapeutics, which could offer well tolerated and more effective cancer medicines in future, complements the current product portfolio. Alderley Park is AstraZeneca’s global centre for research into cancer, linking with several other R&D sites. New agents and novel approaches are needed to provide more effective treatments for the majority of cancers.
Signalling processes, critical to cancer cell division and survival, are the targets of a number of AstraZeneca’s novel compounds. Currently the work is clustered in the areas of anti-angiogenesis, anti-proliferation, cell cycle control and anti-invasion. For example: ZD6474 is a novel, orally active, anti-cancer agent that inhibits two key signalling cancer pathways through VEGF and EGF thus blocking tumour blood vessel development and tumour cell growth. It is in Phase III development for non-small cell lung cancer and was recently granted fast track and orphan drug status by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for Phase II investigation of medullary thyroid cancer. Also in late stage development are AZD2171, a compound in Phase III for lung and other cancers that selectively blocks VEGF signalling and ZD4054, an endothelin antagonist which is being evaluated clinically in hormone-resistant prostate cancer and has been granted fast track status by the FDA. AstraZeneca has a range of other compounds under investigation in a variety of cancer settings.
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