• Strategic move sets new growth trajectory
    Andy Southern
  • Nick Foster

News & Views

Strategic move sets new growth trajectory

Oct 16 2021

The move into new 12,000 sq ft custom designed laboratories and office premises at Granta Park Cambridge by ion channel contract research and drug discovery company, Metrion Biosciences, has doubled the Company’s laboratory space, providing significant additional capacity for ongoing and future client projects and installation of a 384-well format automated electrophysiology and enhanced liquid handling system Metrion has increased its headcount by 50% over the past three years and is actively recruiting.

Labmate UK & Ireland asked company Chief executive Andrew Southern about plans for this next phase of growth.

The automated 384 well system – when will this happen and become operational? Is active recruitment currently aimed at this development?

We are aiming for a 384-well system to be operational in Q4 2021. We are almost complete with our due diligence evaluation of available platforms and will make the final decision on actual platform shortly. We have already recruited a highly experienced senior ion channel scientist with many years’ CRO experience who will join us as Head of Screening Technologies in December 2021. Whilst we already have staff with appropriate expertise to run 384-well assays, we will also be making additional hires in 2022 to ensure we have sufficient resource available to meet the needs and timelines of our customers.  

Can you tell us any more about the benefits the custom designed labs have brought?

“Metrion’s new laboratories have been specifically designed to achieve the objectives of our company over the next five to ten years, with our overall objective being to become the leading global provider of ion channel drug discovery research services.

“Our new laboratory space includes a custom designed Good Laboratory Practise (GLP) screening facility to enable us to offer GLP quality hERG screening from Q1 2022. This assay is required for IND submissions across all therapeutic areas and the service will add further breadth to our comprehensive range of cardiac safety assays, where we have worked closely with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to validate a suite of safety profiling assays.”

The new facilities had also more than quadrupled tissue culture space, enabling dedicated space for cellular and molecular biology.

“These resources will enable us to create new cell lines expressing ion channel proteins and accessory subunits and enable us to offer a much wider range of services across multiple therapeutic areas.” said Andrew.

The largest laboratory space was also customised around automated electrophysiology systems, manual patch clamp rigs, fluorescence screening equipment and compound preparation / liquid handling equipment with locations of all equipment designed to maximise efficiency of workflows.  “We have also retained an option to additional space within the facility should we need to expand, Andrew added.  

Nick Foster recently joined the company as Chief Commercial Officer and Head of Global Business Development, following equity investment of 2.7 Million. The funding round, led by Gresham House Ventures underpins significant growth strategy for 2021 and 2022, that will see stronger focus on the USA, EU and Japan.

 With a strong technical background in protein engineering and drug metabolism studies, Nick has formerly been Associate Director, Business Development Europe for BioFocus Limited (now Charles River Laboratories), Head of Commercial Operations at Optibrium Limited, and Director, Business Development for WuXi AppTec. Nick has an undergraduate degree in Applied Biochemistry from Liverpool John Moores University, UK.

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