Newcastle University’s expertise in skin assays has led to a successful spin-out company, Alcyomics Ltd, that promises to speed up tests of new drugs and cosmetic products.
The breakthrough research underpinning Alcyomics Ltd has been led by Professor Anne Dickinson and Dr Xiao Wang, who work at Newcastle University’s Institute of Cellular Medicine.
Professor Dickinson has developed ways to gather data on the safety of drugs and cosmetic products without using animals or pre-clinical testing on human volunteers. The test, known as a skin explants assay (Skimune™), has emerged from 20 years of research at Newcastle University.
The assay was originally focused on predicting graft versus host disease (a serious complication of bone marrow transplantation) occurring in patients after a transplant.
Today the assay has much wider applications. Professor Dickinson’s methodologies can help predict side effects such as allergic reactions and safety of new drugs. The assays can also be used for cosmetic products, providing safety data on, for example, contact sensitivity – without the need for animal testing.
Newcastle University spun out Alcyomics Ltd in 2007. Since then the company has proved it has truly international appeal, carrying out assays for clients not just within the UK but also within Europe.
Professor Dickinson currently divides her time between Alcyomics and academic work. This arrangement demonstrates the strong cross-over between the academic and commercial worlds at Newcastle University.
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