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Selcia Celebrates 20 Years Radiolabelling Landmark

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Selcia Limited celebrates twenty years of radiosynthesis at its Ongar, UK headquarters in 2012.

The 20th anniversary is a fitting acknowledgement of success for Selcia’s Radiolabelling Division which has seen turnover increase year on year since the company was founded in 2005.

Within the past six months alone, the company has invested to double its capacity to handle a significant upturn in GMP radiolabelling projects following MHRA GMP certification.

Radiosynthesis was first undertaken in Ongar by Rhone-Poulenc in 1992 to support its agricultural R+D programmes.

Initially operating with one radiochemist, the team had grown to five by the time of the Rhone-Poulenc - Hoechst merger in 1999 and the subsequent creation of Aventis Crop Science R+D at the Ongar site.

In 2001 Aventis sold the Ongar facility which ultimately led to the emergence of Selcia through an MBO led by Dr. Hans Fliri in 2005.

At the time of the MBO, the unit had 14 radiochemists. Today, that figure stands at 22 and if present forecasts are met, the Radiolabelling Division is expected to grow by a third within the next five years.

Business growth has arisen, in part, from a successful programme of market diversification.

Selcia has built a strong global presence in pharmaceuticals and biotech, whilst maintaining a significant presence in crop protection.

Its radiolabelling service is now used in a wide range of markets including, animal health, chemicals, flavours and fragrances, cosmetics and nutrition.

Over the past ten years, the company has built a particular reputation for the total synthesis of structurally complex, natural products.

Typically, the division undertakes in the region 100 - 150 individual projects each year. Its customer base continues to grow by about 10 per cent annually, with much of this expansion attributed to overseas markets, including Japan.

While new markets and geographies have helped drive Selcia’s success in radiolabelling, a tighter regulatory environment and structural changes in the pharmaceutical industry, have contributed too, as Dave Roberts, Business Development Director, Radiochemistry, explains: “Regulators are increasingly looking for more data as part of the new product approval process and there is a greater focus on fate studies. Radiolabelled compounds provide the only universal standard for quantification - the radiolabelling sector will continue to grow and prosper as regulators demand more.”

“Meantime, whereas ten years ago big pharma mostly had their own in-house isotope units, many of these have closed down. This has coincided with a greater confidence on their part using the services of external contractors, particularly if GMP certification can be demonstrated.”