Cutting The Time And Cost Of Developing New Cures: Lord Sainsbury Launches World's First Biomedical Accelerator Mass Spectrometer In York

November 20, 1998

The first Accelerator Mass Spectrometer (AMS) in the world to be dedicated to biomedical research is launched officially today (23 November) by Lord Sainsbury, the Minister for Science at CBAMS Ltd.

Identifying promising drugs that could lead to life saving cures in the future can take eight to ten years and cost as much as £200 million. The AMS can investigate large numbers of drugs for pharmaceutical companies, significantly speeding up drug development by quickly identifying the most promising. In some cases it may cut development time by up to six months. With new drugs earning £1 million per day the appeal of using the AMS is obvious. The technique, which is based on carbon dating used to measure the age of ancient finds, will be between one hundred thousand and one million times more sensitive than traditional methods.

"For the first time, pharmaceutical and other biomedical research companies all over the world can access a technique which will speed up drug investigations significantly," said Professor Colin Garner, chief executive officer of CBAMS Ltd. "The technique will also make such investigations safer."

Lord Sainsbury said: "This initiative is a landmark for UK science and reinforces York's position as an important centre for scientific expertise, with a reputation for excellence, initiative and endeavour that is admired internationally."

The AMS is located at the Central Science Laboratory at Sand Hutton, York, and is operated by CBAMS Ltd (the Centre for Biomedical Accelerator Mass Spectrometry), a subsidiary company of the University of York. The machine was purchased with guaranteed contracts for research projects from Glaxo Wellcome, Pfizer, Novartis and Janssen Pharmaceutica.

"CBAMS is a prime example of the sort of start-up company which will be encouraged under the Science City York project," commented Professor Ron Cooke, Vice-Chancellor of the University of York. "CBAMS has worked closely with potential customers to purchase the world's first biomedical Accelerator Mass Spectrometer. It should have enormous benefits for the UK's scientific infrastructure and will boost York's reputation for science."
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Notes

1. Reporters and photographers are welcome to attend the launch of CBAMS Ltd, but must obtain a press pass from John Houlihan at CSL, tel 01904 462388.

2. CBAMS is in operation and analysing samples from the pharmaceutical industry.

3. Professor Colin Garner is professor of Molecular Epidemiology in the department of Biology at the University of York, and specialises in cancer research. He is available for interview prior to the launch of CBAMS from 16 to 19 November on 01904 462700.

4. Please see also today's release on the launch of Science City York by Lord Sainsbury.

5. Science City York is a project designed to build on York's scientific expertise in the following three areas: Bioscience, Information and Communication Technology, and Heritage and Arts Technology.
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University of York

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