26 October, 2018

Envigo Science and Technology week 2018 - helping build a healthier and safer world

By Carey Rooks

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Recently Envigo held its first Science and Technology Week, across some of our key locations. We spoke to our President of EMEA Operations Lizanne Muller about this positive new program. Lizanne is based at our Huntingdon facility. She said: “Science and Technology Week was developed to celebrate the work that takes place across our organization every day. It was wonderful to see so many people sharing their passion for the work they do.” During the week we also invited our suppliers to join in our celebrations and discuss our ongoing partnerships.

Here you’ll meet some of the people involved and discover some of the key insights from an inspiring week.

Presentation - What does the perfect drug look like?

Guy Webber is part of Envigo’s Drug Metabolism and Pharmacokinetics Management (DMPK) Team. He gave a presentation on “The perfect drug - what does it look like?”.

He began by saying how vital it is for our customers to develop safe and efficacious medicines. Then Guy defined what a perfect drug is. Namely, one that works and that displays “druggability”. As Guy noted, “a good molecule does not necessarily mean a good medicine!”

Guy defined druggability as:

  • an orally administered drug
  • well absorbed
  • once a day dosing - for patient convenience
  • being label free - which makes it more commercially competitive
  • being safe

This, Guy said, is why DMPK is so crucial - as it affects every aspect of druggability. 

Like to learn more about successful drug development? If so, try our webinar “De-risking drug development: In vitro strategies that add value to your molecule.”

Winning poster - CMC

As part of Science and Technology Week 2018, we ran a series of poster competitions in the UK. The chemistry, manufacturing and control (CMC) prize was won by Xiaoling Li. Xiaoling is a Senior Technical Specialist, in Envigo’s Department of CMC Research and Development.

Envigo is working with a customer to develop a vaccine for the Zika virus. “By performing this study,” Xiaoling explains, “Envigo aims to assist in producing a highly potent Zika vaccine that provides protection against Zika, without causing subsequent susceptibility to infection. This study, using human antigen-presenting cells, will facilitate the rational design and evaluation of adjuvant strategies for vaccines.”

Take a closer look at the winning entry 'Evaluating the effect of formulation on the uptake of a Zika subunit vaccine candidate by antigen-presenting cells.'

Winning poster - Crop Protection

Envigo’s Associate Director in Metabolism, Sara Penketh, and her colleagues Avril Crowe, Robert Unsworth and Adele Jones won the crop protection poster contest. Their entry was called 'Solving the challenges of conducting environmental fate studies with volatile test substances.'

“Studying the fate of chemicals in the environment is a key element to understanding the potential risk of using crop protection products,” Sara said. “The results of these studies help in assessing how they can be used safely and responsibly.”

Sara continued: “The poster highlights different approaches we have taken in addressing the challenges of working with volatile test items, and highlights important considerations that must be made.”

Review the winning poster on environmental fate studies in more detail.

Partner presentation - Bees, pollination and food - a global perspective

Matt Allan of Atlantic Pollination gave his audience a global perspective on bees, pollination and food. Matt works in education, advisory services, manufacture, rearing, and pollination across Europe and the USA.

He began with a quick history of ecotoxicology. At less than 50 years old, this is a relatively new study. Initially, Matt explained, ecotox studies were carried out almost exclusively on bees. “That was a good starting point,” he said. “But it is clear now that the different biologies and behaviors of the 20,000 plus bee species in the world mean that different approaches are necessary for different types of bees.”

Matt explained the test process for the gross effects on individual bees and the colony. They include:

  • Mortality of individuals
  • Mortality of the colony in social species
  • Reproductive success
  • Offspring success

As such, Matt said, gross effects are fairly easy to measure. For example, by the cessation of egg laying or bee corpses. Then he went on to look at detecting smaller but still significant effects. In the past, he said, these have been harder to measure. Deaths of foragers is one good example. “Technology exists in the form of bee counters that are capable of counting honeybees in and out of a colony,” Matt said.

Matt set out the challenges of measuring bumble bees, and the best ways to overcome them. He ended with a short guide to studying solitary bees and mason bees.

Presentation - pesticide residues - who cares?

This was the title of Gary Dean's thought-provoking presentation. Gary is Business Lead Consultant, Crop Protection, at Envigo Consulting. He began by saying that everybody should care about pesticide residues. The work of the crop protection industry, he reminded us, leads to a healthier and safer world for all of us.

Gary went on to state the stringent regulatory requirements around plant protection products (PPPs), and how we help our customers to meet them. He showed that the benefits of PPPs outweigh the risks, and explained how they help feed a hungry world.

He went on to examine residue levels in more technical detail, and outlined the ways we estimate the human health risk from them. Topics Gary covered included:

  • Acceptable daily intake
  • Acute reference dose
  • Continued monitoring
  • The residues ladder

Keen to know more? Then you’ll be interested in Gary’s ebook “Preserving lifecycles: renewing established pesticides.”

Presentation - Chemical - Everything you wanted to know about REACH...

Martyna Kundrotaite, Donald Gow and Monika Szablicka gave a presentation entitled: “Everything you wanted to know about REACH, and its application to an everyday consumer scenario”.

They started with an overview of current Regulatory and Registration Coverage. Next they talked through the REACH registration requirements and process in more detail. This covered the need for:

  • Physico-chemical data
  • Environmental fate data
  • Environmental toxicity data
  • Human health data

The speakers explored approaches to testing and hazard and risk assessment. Their audience heard that there are modelling tools available for exposure modelling. The ECHA’s (European Chemicals Agency’s) preference, the speakers said, is for CHESAR (Chemical Safety Assessment and Reporting Tool).

The speakers finished with a theoretical consumer case study. It showed what different exposure routes involved from a REACH perspective.

Presentation - Alternatives to animal testing

Dr Brian Burlinson’s presentation was called “Organs on Chips: In Vitro Safety Assessment Alternatives to Animals”. Brian is an expert genetic toxicologist, and a Principal Scientist at Envigo. 

He started by stating the vital role of animal testing in basic medical research. As Brian noted, this research has led to a greater understanding of illnesses and their prevention and cures.

Brian outlined the many drivers for the use of alternatives to animals. They come from - amongst other groups - politicians, activists and regulators. He laid out the move towards non-animal testing, and gave the audience an overview of toxicology in the 21st Century. Brian touched on 2D cell culture systems, and gave some useful tips on improving in-vitro models. He concluded by looking at SkinEthic models, including biologically-inspired engineering such as “organs on chips”.

Read more on non-animal technologies.

There are so many new and exciting technologies paving the way to improved product development. Our experts regularly share information like the above to support your research and help you tackle the challenges that may arise. Sign up to our blog for the latest insights.

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Category // Contract research, crop regulation, REACH, Pharmaceutical development, Crop protection, Chemical