SGS opens clinical research site in Antwerp

With more than 200 staff, the SGS CPU aims to improve the efficiency of early phase study execution

SGS has officially opened its clinical pharmacology research centre on the Antwerp University Hospital site, aimed to strengthen its position in the global pharmaceutical landscape.

The clinical pharmacology unit (CPU), aimed at early phase research, is located next to the University Hospital of Antwerp.

Frankie Ng, SGS CEO, said: “The past year and a half has shone a light on the importance of clinical research and drug development. By moving into this fantastic new facility, SGS will play a key role in shaping the future of the global pharmaceutical industry.”

"Our proximity to Antwerp University Hospital means that expertise is never far away. By joining forces, we are strengthening and broadening our capabilities for early phase clinical research. This new and innovative facility positions SGS at the forefront of clinical research and helps us contribute to a healthier and safer society over the coming years," said SGS Benelux MD, John Pype.

With more than 200 staff, the SGS CPU aims to improve the efficiency of early phase study execution. From a database of more than 13,000 potential trial participants, suitable healthy people for clinical trials are selected through various criteria and trials. During a stay at the unit, the company says, the safety and mechanisms of action of a potential drug are mapped. The company collaborates on clinical trials for various drugs, including several vaccine clinical trials for COVID-19 drugs.

The Antwerp CPU has capacity for 110 study participants, in both individual and multiple bed rooms. A high-care room allows follow-up during in-human testing of drugs. Two specialised quarantine units are also available for controlled investigation of infection models or controlled human infection models (CHIM). In recent years, the unit has conducted the first malaria challenge studies in Belgium with its own developed H3N2 (flu) virus.

In addition, the company has invested heavily in its technical capabilities: a GMP production unit with clean rooms level D, C and B for sterile study drug preparations, a centrally located laboratory to facilitate complex sample processing and the use of the latest bed-side monitoring (telemetry). Environmental and sustainability issues have also been anticipated. For this, chilled and heated via climatic caps are combined with heat pumps. The roof is green and equipped with solar panels and daylight is maximised. Automated water taps and drinking fountains have been installed as well as light steering and solar blinds. Also, the outdoor environment is sustainably landscaped with flower ponds and infiltration ponds and sustainably managed.

"Challenge studies will continue to play a key role in the development of drug and infectious disease vaccines in the future. These studies can be a crucial time-saving step in the clinical development of antiviral drugs, for example, by showing efficiency and safety in a controlled environment quickly and safely. That is why we have also decided to focus on expanding our quarantine capacity. This will enable us to conduct studies with a wide range of study participants more efficiently and quickly," said Annick van Riel, Director Clinical Pharmacology Unit, SGS.

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