SGS increases its capacity for human challenges studies

The company has 47 offices and laboratories with 3,600 employees, of which 600 work in the life sciences sector

SGS will move its Clinical Pharmacology Unit (CPU) to a new location in 2021, increasing its capacity to conduct Human Challenge studies.

The SGS CPU is currently located in the ZNA Stuivenberg hospital in Antwerp. In collaboration with University Hospital Antwerp, SGS is building a unit with a total capacity of 110 beds. This also includes a separate quarantine unit with 45 beds for CHIM studies. The move to the new unit is planned in mid-2021.

The SGS CPU has been active in early phase clinical research for 30 years, where therapeutic drugs and vaccines are tested on healthy volunteers. For example, the CPU is currently actively involved in several clinical trials in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition, SGS’s CPU has been conducting human challenge trials (HTC) studies in its 20-bed insulation unit for the past five years. HCTs or controlled human infection models (CHIM) can validate the efficiency of a drug. Healthy study participants are exposed to a particular pathogen in a controlled way, such as a virus to prove the efficiency and safety of a drug. For example, challenge studies have already been carried out with a self-developed weakened H3N2 (flu) virus and SGS also carried out the first Malaria challenge study in Belgium last year.

Annick Van Riel, Director Clinical Pharmacology Unit, SGS, said: "Challenge studies will continue to play a key role in the development of medicines and vaccines against infectious diseases in the future. These studies can be a crucial time saving in the clinical development of anti-viral drugs, among other things, by demonstrating efficiency and safety in a controlled environment in a fast and safe manner. That's why we've also decided to invest further in expanding our quarantine capacity in our new CPU. This will allow us to carry out more efficient and faster studies with large numbers of study participants."

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SGS Life Sciences (more information, website)