Pharma market progress a tonic for TeraView
Imaging specialist, TeraView has achieved considerable success following its business plan makeover, attracting two senior figures from the pharmaceutical industry and securing a key strategic investor from the US.Spinning out from Toshiba Research in Cambridge, TeraView moved its focus away from the security and defence markets towards the end of last year, choosing to reduce its exposure to two over-served and overcrowded markets.
Since then it has chanelled its efforts into the Life Sciences and pharmaceuticals markets to good effect.
The strategic switch has yielded first-mover advantage and the company is acknowledged as the world’s first company devoted to the application of terahertz light for spectroscopy and imaging in pharmaceutical drug development and manufacture.
Terahertz radiation lies in unique region of the spectrum between the microwaves and infrared, and was the last unexploited region of the light and radio wave spectrum.
And now the company has secured financial backing from the San Jose-based KT Venture Group, the corporate investment arm of $2bn semiconductor inspection market leader, KLA-Tencor.
Ady Levy, senior business development director at KLA-Tencor firmly endorsed the quality of TeraView's technology. He said: “Following a review of terahertz companies, KLA-Tencor sought out TeraView as the market leader to commercially exploit this new region of the light and radio wave spectrum.”
“The addition of KLA-Tencor,” said TeraView CEO, Don Arnone, “will facilitate better mutual understanding of how THz can be exploited in the electronics and related industrial inspection markets. This partnership is also an excellent opportunity for the company to further build our US business.”
Similarly important on a strategic level is the recruitment of two heavyweight pharma players. Dr Barrie Thorpe, formerly an executive VP at Astra Zeneca, takes on only his second non-executive directorship and Dr Andrew Carr, formerly director of Amersham, has joined as non-executive chairman.
“Early adopters have now proven that TeraView’s terahertz products solve real business issues.” said Arnone, “We are now taking terahertz solutions to the mainstream pharmaceutical drug development and manufacturing markets, where Barrie’s and Andrew’s experience will be invaluable.”
The usefulness of TeraView's technology was brought into focus by a recent warning that ingesting crushed tablets can be hazardous, reportedly because active ingredients are absorbed into the bloodstream too quickly.
The market segment that the company is addressing is controlled or sustained release tablets, in which the active ingredient dissolves into the system over a period of time. Such drugs currently account for 15 per cent or £20bn of the industry’s annual revenues and rising.
The problem for the industry – and this is where Teraview's imaging technology comes in – is that such drugs are notoriously difficult to design and manufacture. Even the very largest players, such as GlaxoSmithKline have fallen foul of these difficulties, with US regulator the FDA pulling its anti-depressant drug, Paxil off the market after it was found that tablets could be split apart.
Other markets for the technology exist in early stage cancer detection, defence and industrial inspection which are explored via commercial partners.