Avista Pharma Solutions announced the Minneapolis Medical Research Foundation (MMRF), a nonprofit subsidiary of the Hennepin Healthcare System, has contracted the company to manufacture an opioid-derived small molecule, a key component of a conjugate vaccine in development to treat opioid addiction. The research is funded by a three-year grant to the MMRF from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Avista Pharma is registered with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to handle controlled substances, such as opioids. The manufacturing process to synthesize the small molecule, including cGMP production, also aligns well with the services provided by the company’s Durham facility.
“We are very optimistic about a positive outcome, as we have a great team of chemists working on this compound and are about to enter the critical stage of GMP manufacturing,” Dr. Brian Heasley, manager of process chemistry at Avista Pharma and project lead said. “Through this partnership, we are creating the synthetic small molecule that MMRF needs to continue their great work in protecting patients from opioid abuse or relapse.”
Through this collaboration, MMRF now has the small molecule component required to optimize the bioconjugation stage of the synthetic vaccine’s overall manufacturing process. GMP production of the molecule and associated conjugate vaccine to support clinical development will follow shortly thereafter.
“This is another great opportunity for us to demonstrate our organization’s capabilities in working with controlled substances and the synthesis of novel small molecules,” Timothy Compton, vice president of business development at Avista Pharma said. “We want to thank the Minneapolis Medical Research Foundation for enlisting our expertise and trusting us with the development of this important compound.”
Opioid abuse is a serious public health issue, as drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the United States according to Marco Pravetoni, Ph.D., MMRF researcher, Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Minnesota Medical School and one of the study’s principal investigators. Overdoses most commonly involves heroin and prescription opioid drugs, such as oxycodone, hydrocodone and fentanyl.