Nuvisan, a company 49% owned by ALS, hits new targets through funded research

Screening robot
26 FEB 2024 ALS
Imagine the potentially profound impact of global access to effective contraception that does not affect the female hormonal cycle. Current research in Europe could soon help bring about such a promising reality.

Global testing leader ALS Limited (ASX: ALQ) is reporting initial progress on discovery toward the eventual development of non-hormonal contraceptive medicines that leverages the expertise of The Nuvisan Group (Nuvisan), a Europe-based pharmaceutical testing business in which ALS owns a 49% interest.

In 2022, Nuvisan received a three-year grant of US$ 9.6 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to develop a portfolio of programs based on several promising human protein targets, and to set up and execute multiple hit-finding campaigns. This includes high-throughput screening (HTS) campaigns of a proprietary library to identify chemical hits, which can be further optimized into in vivo lead compounds that are potentially suitable for non-hormonal contraception.

To develop these medicines, Charlotte Kopitz, Executive Vice President at Nuvisan explains, the team screens a large, proprietary compound library to identify interesting starting points, which will be further optimized to enable more sophisticated experiments.

‘Our goal is to ultimately deliver a candidate for preclinical and then clinical development,’ Kopitz says, adding, ‘We simply could not make this kind of intensive discovery effort without the Gates Foundation funding.’   

Now, a year since receiving the foundation grant, Nuvisan is progressing with several targets in parallel at the early phases of hit finding. Nuvisan presented a programmatic update in November at the foundation’s Non-Hormonal Contraceptives Discovery Fall Meeting, which took place at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, TX, coinciding with the college’s 2023 National Contraception Meeting. 

In addition to the target showing significant promise, the Nuvisan team has begun looking at two additional attractive targets. The second was added in the first half of 2023 and the third target was identified last August, with lab work starting later that year. 

 

Charlotte Kopitz [in red], Executive Vice President at Nuvisan, conferring with her team

Even though the potential results are years away, the team at Nuvisan are passionate about where the research could lead. Anna Thrun, a scientist on the project working in the lab on lead discovery and screening, exemplifies this enthusiasm in summarizing the promise of the effort:

‘The possibility of helping provide women and girls around the world the opportunity to use non-hormonal contraception will hopefully have a positive impact on creating a more gender-equal world.’

About ALS Limited
A global leader in testing, ALS provides comprehensive testing solutions to clients in a wide range of industries around the world. Using state-of-the-art technologies and innovative methodologies, our dedicated international teams deliver highest-quality testing services and personalized solutions supported by local expertise. We help our clients leverage the power of data-driven insights for a safer and healthier world.