Capital Health and University of Alberta launch Alberta's first Phase 1 clinical trials facility



    EDMONTON, June 26 /CNW/ - Following its recent pledge to increase
research investment in Edmonton from $10 million to $75 million per year by
2010, the Northern Alberta Clinical Trials and Research Centre (NACTRC), a
joint venture of the University of Alberta and Capital Health, is unveiling a
new Phase I clinical trials facility within the Dr. Peter Crockford Clinical
Investigation Unit (CIU) at Capital Health's University of Alberta Hospital.
The Phase 1 Unit will enable researchers to perform first-in-human testing of
new molecules for medical treatment.
    "This is an exciting venture that will place the City of Edmonton, the
University of Alberta, and Capital Health in the elite company of only a few
worldwide research centres with a Phase 1 Unit in a fully integrated academic
health region and university platform," said Dr. Richard Fedorak, Director of
NACTRC. "The Phase 1 Unit is the first of its kind in Alberta, one of only
four in Canada, and the most advanced facility of its kind in the Western
provinces. It has the further advantage, unique in the country, of being under
one roof with a major adult research hospital, a leading children's hospital,
and the new Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute, the first facility of its
kind in the West."
    The Phase 1 Unit enables Alberta's biotech companies to conduct Phase 1
clinical trials in Edmonton. Previously local companies had to go outside the
province or outside the country to conduct research with new molecules. By
leveraging the facilities and expertise of Capital Health and the University
of Alberta, the Phase 1 Unit will be able to host research by multinational
pharmaceutical companies, as well as providing crucial infrastructure for
Alberta's burgeoning biotech industry.
    "The launch of the Phase 1 Unit will solidify Edmonton's position as the
Western Canadian hub for biotechnology," said Mayor Stephen Mandel. "This new
facility is a natural fit for Edmonton's strong medical community, its
well-educated labour force and its tradition of clinical research excellence."
    NACTRC and the Phase 1 Unit also address the need to diversify the city's
economy beyond the resources sector. Sheila Weatherill, president and CEO of
Capital Health, said the new facility complements Capital Health's vision of
health excellence and economic growth in the region. "The Phase 1 Unit will
help leverage our health system as an economic driver for Edmonton," said
Weatherill. "The collaboration between the City of Edmonton, Capital Health
and the University of Alberta is a testament to the Mayor's vision, and to the
talent and drive of our clinicians, scientists and biotech entrepreneurs."
    Dr. Indira Samarasekera, President of the University of Alberta, says
NACTRC and the Phase 1 Unit support the university's strategy to bring
innovative research and technologies to the marketplace. "The Phase 1 Unit is
the latest in Edmonton's long history of medical research firsts,"
Samarasekera said. "We are proud to join Capital Health and the City of
Edmonton in helping to foster more medical breakthroughs that will result in
improved quality of life not just locally, but across the country and around
the world."

    NACTRC is a one-stop world-class clinical research centre on the
University of Alberta campus in Edmonton. For Alberta and Canadian biotech
companies in early development and established international pharmaceutical
companies alike, NACTRC offers the end-to-end services and infrastructure
necessary for world-class clinical research to succeed. NACTRC is networked to
more than 275 principal investigators and scientists - a dedicated research
team that provides regulatory and administrative framework, experience,
support and mentorship for clinical research under one roof.

    BACKGROUNDER

    What is NACTRC?

    The Northern Alberta Clinical Trials and Research Centre (NACTRC) is a
joint venture between Capital Health, one of Canada's largest integrated
academic health regions, and the University of Alberta, one of Canada's
leading research-intensive universities. Located in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada,
NACTRC was established in 1999 to provide pharmaceutical and
research-intensive companies with an environment that encourages the delivery
of clinical trials and research that is high quality, timely and
cost-efficient.
    NACTRC's mission is to provide clinical research education, orientation
and expertise in order to support innovative research and advance excellence
in patient care, and to facilitate timely and cost-effective administration of
clinical research.

    What are Phase I, II and III clinical trials?

    Clinical trials are the process of testing a pharmaceutical drug or a
medical device to determine its suitability and marketability in treating
specific medical illnesses.
    Phase I clinical trials are first-stage testing in human subjects to
determine the safety and tolerability of the drug or device, as well as
establish the range of dosages for clinical use. This kind of clinical trial
often utilizes healthy volunteers, though in some cases patients are used, as
with cancer or HIV drug trials.
    Phase II clinical trials are performed on larger groups and are designed
to test the clinical efficacy of a drug for a specific condition, as well as
to continue the assessments of the Phase I clinical trial on a larger sample.
    Phase III clinical trials are intended to definitively establish the
efficacy of a new drug or therapy in comparison to the best treatments
currently available. Phase III trials may include thousands of patients and
run for as long as five years.

    What does NACTRC mean to Alberta's biosciences industry?

    NACTRC's mandate is to provide streamlined 'one-stop shopping' for
industry sponsors and researchers to conduct clinical trials in the Capital
Region.
    From islet transplantation to robot-assisted, minimally invasive prostate
and kidney surgery, NACTRC staff and network of physicians, in partnership
with the University of Alberta and Capital Health, possess an amazing range of
medical and research expertise.
    NACTRC not only offers the best researchers, clinicians, and research
facilities, it also boasts some of the best administrative support in the
world, including access to a 9,000-square-foot leading-edge facility for
clinical trials.
    NACTRC's consolidated administrative structure provides researchers and
sponsors the initial start-up expertise and the long-term support needed to
guide a trial from inception through completion.

    
    Examples of Edmonton Firsts in Clinical Research:

    Co-discovery of insulin               1920

    First heart bypass operation          1954

    First treatment for Hepatitis B       1986

    First use of biologic agent for
    inflammatory bowel disease            1999

    First pancreatic transplant           2000
    





For further information:

For further information: Media contact: NACTRC - Scott Lingley, (780)
428-0411; Capital Health - Steve Buick, (780) 407-7905; University of Alberta
- Phoebe Dey, (780) 492-0437; City of Edmonton - Patricia Misutka, (780)
496-8100

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NORTHERN ALBERTA CLINICAL TRIALS AND RESEARCH CENTRE (NACTRC)

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