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European Centre for Chirality to offer analytical and scientific services

Ghent University, the University of Antwerp and BioTools Europe Ltd have partnered to create the European Centre for Chirality (EC2), which is dedicated to advancing understanding of the part chirality plays in biological processes.

The EC2 mission is to help academic and industrial scientists develop a broad range of chirality-related applications by offering services including the determination of absolute chiral configurations, vibrational optical activity (VOA) measurements, computational modelling including expert consultancy and education workshops to open-access VOA instrumentation.

Given the importance of chirality in – for example – drug discovery and development, the information obtained using these techniques can benefit productivity in drug discovery, diagnostics research, drug development and registration.

The new Centre, based at Antwerp and Ghent, Belgium, will comprise a team of dedicated scientists using an array of advanced analytical instrumentation and modelling software able to fulfil the demanding analysis such challenging applications require.

Dr Edwin Kellenbach, Departmental Head of Analytical Sciences at Merck, explained, ‘Analysis of the chiral formations of both small molecules and biological molecules (simply put, the right- and left-handed versions of molecules) are now an essential part of the discovery and development of new medicines, for example the understanding of chirality has played a key role in the success of 7 out of 10 of the latest blockbuster drugs including Lipitor, Nexium and Plavix.

‘The challenge faced by many of us working in the pharmaceutical sector and underpinned by pressure from market regulators is to obtain high quality data about chirality sufficiently early in the discovery of new molecules to be able to make decisions that will determine the success or failure of the molecules in achieving clinical efficacy and safety. EC2 will help scientists meet these challenges.’

The Centre will open on Thursday 2 December 2010, and to mark this occasion, EC2 will hold a day-long scientific programme and showcase BioTools advanced instrumentation.

Attending the launch will be EC2 experts – including Professor Patrick Bultinck (Ghent University), Professor Wouter Herrebout (University of Antwerp), Professor Laurence A. Nafie (Syracuse University, New York) and Dr Rina K. Dukor (President of BioTools Inc) – and key VOA instruments will be available for demonstration.

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