Anti-venom from Wales will soon help snake bite victims in Africa

Snake bite victims in Europe and Africa will soon benefit from anti-venoms produced in Carmarthenshire (WalesOnline, 2017).

MicroPharm develops immunotherapy products to target infectious diseases and acute toxic conditions. It produces two anti-venoms for the treatment of snake bites from the European common adder and the carpet viper in West Africa. Its planned £2m expansion, supported by £150,000 from the Welsh Government, will see it open new facilities at Cilgerran while retaining its base in Newcastle Emlyn. The investment in new pharmaceutical manufacturing clean room facilities is expected to create fifteen new jobs and safeguard a further fourteen, bringing the total number of staff to fifty one.

MicroPharm’s CEO Ian Cameron said “We have outgrown our existing facilities in Newcastle Emlyn and the new manufacturing facility at Cilgerran will provide a platform for the long term growth of the company.”

Following the expansion MicroPharm will become a major supplier of anti-venoms to Europe and Africa. It joins Protherics UK, a BTG International company based in Llandysul which provides antivenin for North American pit viper envenomation in the US. The life science cluster includes Ig-Innovations, also based near Llandysul, which produces antibodies for supply to the research, diagnostic, biotech and pharmaceutical sector including MicroPharm, as well as direct sales.

Economy Secretary Ken Skates said “It is a considerable achievement that this small area of rural west Wales is a world leader in what is an extremely specialised, highly competitive and highly valued field. It once again illustrates the breadth of expertise we have in Wales within the life sciences sector. The investment will provide the additional facilities required to meet the growing global demand for its products. It will also enable the company to capitalise on opportunities to increase its product range and support its on-going research to provide treatments for devastating diseases like Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) and Ebola. This very important expansion project will further embed a specialist pharmaceutical R&D and manufacturing company in west Wales and provide opportunities for local people to access high quality jobs.”

MicroPharm’s expertise lies in producing a range of immunotherapeutic products for clinical use designed to treat acute, life threatening emergencies and required urgently either because no alternative exists or any alternatives are unsafe or ineffective.

In addition to anti-venoms, MicroPharm is also working on developing a ricin antitoxin having been awarded a contract, valued at up to £7m, last year by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) on behalf of the MoD. It involves the production of ovine antibodies to ricin and their further processing and manufacture into a product suitable for human use. Ricin is a deadly poison with no antidote currently available.

MicroPharm has a product pipeline of several new immunotherapeutic products for human and veterinary use ranging from early stage opportunities to clinical trials stage which are expected to come into the market from 2018 to 2021.

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