Pharmacelsus was founded in April 2000 by Dr. Christine Batzl-Hartmann with three colleagues at the University of Saarbrücken. “We decided to set up a preclinical contract research organization (CRO) to help along the process of new molecule discovery,” says Dr. Batzl-Hartmann. “The time it takes a new drug to go from preclinical work to clinical trials and finally to market can take as long as 15 years, and for just one effective molecule to be found, more than 5,000 molecules have to be fed through the preclinical pipeline. Of these only five will reach the clinical phase.”
Pharmacelsus carries out the early testing on promising molecules, carrying out in vitro ADME and in vivo pharmacokinetic studies and specializing in investigating solubility, how the molecules bind to plasma proteins, whether they cross barriers in the body, how they are metabolized and what metabolites are produced.
To find the answers to these questions, the laboratory makes use of a range of different tests carried out on state-of-the-art research equipment.
“Pharmacelsus stands for quality,” insists Dr. Batzl-Hartmann. “There may be bigger and faster CROs out there, but we pride ourselves on the fact that we operate at the same scientific level as our customers thanks to our highly qualified research team. We do not just supply the data, we also do out of the box thinking and interpret our results. We do not see ourselves as a supplier but as temporary members of a larger team working towards the same goal.”
Pharmacelsus offers a portfolio of 80 different tests looking at potential side effects, efficacy and druggability. It is particularly strong in the field of small molecule bioanalytics. “There has not yet been a question in this area that we have not been able to crack,” states Dr. Batzl-Hartmann.
In 2005, the company relocated from the start-up center at the university of Saarbrücken to Science Park. In 2008 it achieved GLP certification, which guarantees high quality standards throughout the company.
“Saarland is one of the smallest states in Germany, and there are only a handful of companies in the life sciences field here. We benefit from an advantageous location and have little competition in the local region,” says Dr. Batzl-Hartmann. “Most of our business is with German companies, but about 30% of our turnover comes from clients in the rest of Europe and the final 10% from abroad. Further expansion is being targeted both in terms of services and turnover. GLP bioanalytics for clinical samples and testing on endocrine disrupters was recently added to the portfolio, and other complementary additions will follow in the future.”