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Therapeutics to space – rodents leading the way


Taconic is a leading provider of genetically engineered rodent models for medical research applications. The company has a reputation for high-quality and complex models that are not readily available everywhere in the world. “We are dedicated to improving human health through providing first-rate, relevant mouse and rat models to researchers in the life science industry,” says CEO Dr. Robert Rosenthal, describing the mission of the US-based biosciences company.

While supplying research models, Taconic is also committed to reducing the use of animals in medical research. “Our focus is on providing better, more predictive models to decrease the number of animals needed to develop improved methods of treatment,” explains Dr. Rosenthal, noting the apparent contradiction.

Taconic has more than 65 years of experience in the research model sector. The company was founded by Robert K. Phelan in 1949, in a garage in Canajoharie, New York. Since then, Taconic has developed into a global biosciences group with production sites and laboratories in the USA, Denmark and Germany, over 1,300 customers worldwide, 700 employees and annual sales of more than 100 million USD.

The company has close relationships with partners in Japan, Singapore and South Korea. “We are a global supplier to global customers and use our operations for customers wherever they are,” states Dr. Rosenthal. Taconic is both a leader in genetically engineered models and services around the breeding and management of genetically engineered models.

“Customers come to us for a design and we supply them with models for their research programs,” says Dr. Rosenthal. “In addition, we provide management services to help them with their programs.” Taconic was also the first supplier of a germ-free model. “More than ten years ago, we developed a commercial system to supply these models,” explains Dr. Rosenthal. “They are the cutting edge in the microbiome area.”

According to Dr. Rosenthal, drug development is a very lengthy, time-consuming process and requires investment of billions of dollars. “Our research models enable better decisions in the preclinical stages, guide the development of new drugs and also help determine what is not going to work,” he explains.

Examples of where Taconic research models are contributing to the design of new methods of treatment are the areas of immuno-oncology and drug safety and toxicity. In the latter, the company has developed a proprietary model, rasH2, which is used by pharmaceutical and biotechnology firms across the globe as a preferred methodology.

“Regulatory authorities worldwide recommend rasH2 as the model to use,” says Dr. Rosenthal. “It brings together the strengths of our company.” Other major areas where Taconic models are used include diabetes research and neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

Taconic differentiates itself from the competition not only by its high-quality, genetically engineered models but also by its outstanding swiftness. “In the case of drug safety testing, for example, the rasH2 model reduces the traditional two-year testing cycle to just six months,” states Dr. Rosenthal. “For a drug developer, this means the new drug can hit the market 18 months earlier.”

Taconic is able to handle very complex projects, such as in the microbiome area where research is focused on finding out the relation between the microbiome and therapeutics and identifying how, when and whether diseases appear.

“The development of customized research models for very specific applications is a high-tech business with very complex requirements,” says Dr. Rosenthal. “We are capable of managing these requirements successfully and have a strong focus on translating quality, science and experience into customer benefits. In the area of genetically engineered research models, we are probably the easiest company you can do business with”.

Asked about the reasons for the company’s sustained success, Dr. Rosenthal refers to Taconic’s outstanding customer focus. “We always put the customer first, make sure that we treat all customers well and in a fair manner and always aim to do better.”

The distinct strengths of Taconic have even won the trust of NASA as the leading biosciences company has been selected to supply mice to be sent to the International Space Station to study the mechanisms of different diseases that result in symptoms such as bone loss. “We have supplied rodents for space missions since 1985,” says Dr. Rosenthal.

In the future, Taconic wants to continue growing, especially in the area of microbiome research, and generating more opportunities for both employees and customers. “We want to continue to advance where we are already strong,” explains Dr. Rosenthal. “The goal is to anticipate what customers need before they even know.”

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