Cardinal Health and Expression Analysis to integrate gene expression technology into drug development

Dublin 12 March 2003Cardinal Health Inc., a provider of products and services supporting the health care industry, has formed a strategic alliance with Expression Analysis Inc., a micro-array genetics testing and analysis company. The alliance incorporates advanced gene expression technology into mainstream drug discovery and development processes and enables Cardinal Health's pharmaceutical and biotechnology customers to optimise and accelerate the discovery of a drug and its development toward an appropriate target population.


Academic researchers have embraced micro-array testing and pharmaceutical companies recognise its potential to revolutionise the drug discovery and clinical trial efforts. The alliance, which was created through Cardinal Health's Pharmaceutical Development business, advances the company's strategy toward becoming the complete provider of global outsourcing services for the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries.

"We are delighted to add the expertise of Expression Analysis to complement our wide range of services and, ultimately, help us optimise our customers' discovery portfolios", stated Alfred Childers, Ph.D., co-president of the Pharmaceutical Development business of Cardinal Health. "Our customers will also benefit from maintaining the proprietary information that is generated from our services."

The technology, known as micro-array gene expression processing, can accelerate drug discovery by enabling researchers to study the effects of a treated or controlled biological sample on as many as 30.000 genes simultaneously, all within about two days. Micro-array technology represents the enormous array of genes residing on a small microchip, which can determine which genes are affected.

Steven Casey, Expression Analysis' (EA) Chief Operating Officer, said the alliance will combine Cardinal Health's wide range of drug discovery services, such as target validation and ADME (absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion) evaluation, with EA's expertise in micro-array processing and analysis. "We are excited to begin working with such a well-established industry leader to expedite micro-array processes into drug development and clinical applications", stated Steven Casey.

As part of the alliance, the two companies plan to launch a new gene-to-drug (G2D) initiative. The G2D initiative will enable Cardinal Health's customers to enter the drug discovery or development arena with just an idea or direction. Together, EA and Cardinal Health can take that general direction and develop and actualise a plan for compound identification based on a targeted gene.

Given a treated or controlled biological sample, EA can rapidly detect affected genes in a given population using its Affymetrix GeneChip micro-array technology. Cardinal Health can then validate those identified gene targets and also identify compounds that affect the targets and determine the compound's metabolic (ADME) characteristics.

Treated biological samples can then be returned to EA for determining their gene expression characteristics, a process that allows clients some insight into predicting the toxicity and efficacy of the drugs. Furthermore, the alliance affords additional opportunities that can be realised down the development pipeline, which will allow both EA and Cardinal Health to use tools for validating target groups or populations appropriate for participation in clinical trials.

Expression Analysis, based in Durham, North Carolina is a full-service micro-array genetics testing and analysis company dedicated to providing clients with high-quality genomic processing and data analysis services using Affymetrix GeneChip micro-array technology. This technology applies the principles of semiconductor technology to the life sciences, making it possible to qualitatively and quantitatively measure gene expression levels in a number of biologically relevant organisms, quickly and with more reliable results.

Founded on the expertise of investigators at Duke University and the Duke University Medical Center, EA is one of the few United States-based authorised service providers for Affymetrix, a California-based company that develops and commercialises systems to help researchers explore the relationship between genes and human health.

The Pharmaceutical Development business of Cardinal Health serves the continually changing needs of the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries by providing discovery support, product development, pharmaceutical analysis, clinical manufacturing and clinical supply services. The business is part of a broad spectrum of services that Cardinal Health offers to pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies through its Pharmaceutical Technologies and Services group.

The Pharmaceutical Development business includes development and manufacturing facilities in Albuquerque, New Mexico; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Research Triangle Park, North Carolina; San Diego, California; Schorndorf, Germany; Somerset, New Jersey; Stockport, United Kingdom; Swindon, United Kingdom; and Wingates, United Kingdom.

Cardinal Health companies develop, manufacture, package and market products for patient care; develop drug-delivery technologies; distribute pharmaceuticals, medical-surgical and laboratory supplies; and offer consulting and other services that improve quality and efficiency in health care. Headquartered in Dublin, Ohio, Cardinal Health employs more than 50.000 people on five continents and produces annual revenues of more than $44 billion.

Leslie Versweyveld

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