17 November 2009
New animal health company underway
ParaCo Technologies Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of AgResearch Limited, has announced it has signed agreements with a number of research groups giving it exclusive animal health screening rights for a number of potentially active biological molecules.
ParaCo has been established to screen novel molecule libraries for animal health activity, and has grown out of restructuring of the Wool Consortium, Ovita and the buyout of WEL and MWNZ’s ParaCo shareholding by AgResearch Limited.
Dr Ian Boddy, Managing Director of ParaCo and Commercial GM of AgResearch said, “Our initial aim was to access molecules with known biological activity, and then test whether they had any effect on key animal health targets such as gastrointestinal nematode parasites. By choosing molecules designed to be biologically active, we hoped to increase our chance of finding activity in our area of interest.”
ParaCo will use the world-class animal health capability within its parent company to undertake the screening of these molecules.” This is a really exciting opportunity for us; by working with ParaCo we have developed and validated a battery of assays against a range of nematode parasites, including some which have developed resistance to a number of existing products,” said Dr Ross Bland, Senior Scientist at AgResearch.
The creation of ParaCo was carefully planned, according to Dr Boddy; “When we looked around for libraries of compounds that fitted our bill we wanted to focus on some of the world class chemistry from within New Zealand before looking anywhere else. Initially we chose University of Auckland as they have both an active synthetic chemistry group under Professor Margaret Brimble, as well as an internationally recognised cancer research group - both of whom had libraries of molecules available for screening.”
The arrangement with the University gives ParaCo Technologies the exclusive right to screen the molecules for animal health applications and then obtain commercial rights to any molecules on terms already agreed between the parties.
“So far we have screened a large number of compounds and it would be fair to say that we are almost embarrassed by the number of active molecules we are unearthing from seemingly new chemical classes. We will have to make a few hard calls in the near future as to where we put our efforts as we have limited funding and as we are owned and funded by a CRI cannot access some public funding usually available to start up companies,” said Dr Boddy.