Compound Management Becomes Big Business
In the world of pharmaceuticals, few issues are more important than compound management facilities. Selecting the best options for the storage, handling and retrieval of key samples is often a vital part of drug development, so having the right solutions in place has risen up the agenda for many firms recently.
The concept has also spawned a big industry. Businesses have been quick to realise both the benefits of developing new technology to aid the practice, as well as the potential economic boost that outsourcing the concept to specialist bodies can provide them.
One company that has enjoyed much success thanks to the growth of outsourced compound management is BioFocus. As a global firm with offices in the US, UK and other parts of Europe, the company has become a well-known name in the world of biotechnology and pharmaceuticals. Its compound management services also appear to have a strong reputation, as the company has wrapped up two major deals in the sector during the past six months.
A three-year agreement with the Global Alliance for TB Drug Development, which is best known as the TB Alliance, will see BioFocus take control of the organisation's chemical library collection at its San Francisco-based compound management facility.
Scott Snyder, senior director of compound management of BioFocus, said the company would be joining "prestigious" names, including the National Institutes of Health, on the firm's portfolio. "This collaboration leverages our full suite of compound management services and further expands our client base of not-for-profit discovery organizations to a global level," he added.
Another chemical library based at the company's San Francisco facility is that of Procter & Gamble. Back in August, BioFocus agreed a similar three-year deal with the global pharmaceutical firm which, along with the TB Alliance agreement, shows that compound management outsourcing appears to be a hot trend at present.
However, there is more to compound management than just outsourcing. Like many parts of the pharmaceutical industry, attempts to improve the technological aspect of the field are ongoing. One of the latest innovations to be seen has come from Hamilton Storage Technologies, which has added an integrated tube processing module to its -20C and -80C Sample Access Manager systems.
Called the SAMple Puncher, the technology allows drug developers to automatically punch tubes from their storage trays; a flexible add-on that makes the system ideal for use with REMP labware. The company has suggested that its capabilities make it useful for both compound management and biobanking applications.
Matt Hamilton, vice-president of Hamilton Storage Technologies, said: "Many users feel chained to a more expensive, less flexible automation platform because no other system could cherry-pick their punch-type tubes.
"We've developed an entirely new method for punching tubes to a destination rack, so customers can now switch to the more full-featured Hamilton platform or add us as they expand their existing library management systems."
Hamilton is just one of a number of companies that have carved a niche out of providing technology for industries based around life sciences, particularly the pharmaceutical industry. Founded in 2007, the business has a hand in tube and plate management technology, as well as sealing and capping, and software for use with such solutions.
According to the company: "We recognised the need for vigorous environmental controls during processing to ensure compound integrity and increase data quality and operational effectiveness."
Such concerns are likely to lead a number of firms continuing their efforts to embrace and develop new products for compound management purposes. Any equipment that can help scientists to improve the efficiency of their logistics, as well as their handling of compounds, is likely to meet with much approval from the world of pharmaceuticals.
As work to combat a range of illnesses and conditions continues at pace, it is difficult to underestimate the importance of compound management. Its prominence in the pharmaceutical industry is only likely to grow over the next few years.