With the addition of Richmond, VA-based Alliance Biosciences, WCG’s biosafety division will be able to manage more of the continuum of biosafety oversight and help to ensure research involving potentially hazardous agents and vectors complies with the appropriate safety and regulatory requirements from lab design and drug discovery through clinical testing and application.
WCG Chairman and CEO Donald Deieso told Outsourcing-pharma.com that as the interest around lab safety has picked up in the past two weeks after vials of smallpox was found in an FDA lab. “What’s even more interesting is how much more of these types of samples may exist in university or institution labs,” Deieso told us. “This issue goes beyond smallpox and anthrax to recombinant DNA and gene therapy,” he added.
WCG manages more than 200 Institutional Biosafety Committees (IBCs) and has evaluated more than 140 gene transfer clinical and recombinant DNA pre-clinical research protocols to date. That is more reviews than any other U.S. organization outside of the Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health.
“We have for a number of years been the leader in supporting institutions in IBC work – this acquisition further expands that business,” Deieso said, adding the company has seen an uptick in recent requests to protect employees and ensure proper ventilation in laboratories. “We’re finding more work is being done to understand more virulent viruses,” he said.
As far as integrating the companies, Deieso said WCG would bring over from Alliance 40 to 50 industry experts that are engaged consultants with specialized backgrounds and combine them “with 100 or so direct and consultant employees in our company.”
The companies are also now working to merge their clients, which include international agencies, federal agencies, state and institutions – academic medical centers sponsored by biotech and pharma companies.
“We fully expect that with increased focus on genetic and personalized information, the research is going to require more work at lab level on biosafety considerations, which includes sample storage,” Deieso added.
In addition to providing administrative support and mentoring for IBCs and biosafety officers, WCG Biosafety also specializes in containment laboratory design guidance, facility evaluations, documentation and program audits, risk/threat assessments, and custom biosafety training.
Ryan Burnette, former director of Alliance Biosciences and newly-appointed VP of WCG Biosafety, said: “As the promise of gene therapy increases, vaccine development expands, and the industry continues to explore new applications for infectious agents, the need for biosafety and biosecurity is more important than ever.”