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Avista Pharma Hired to Make Clinical Supplies of Opioid Addiction Vaccine

By Mindy Hamlin, NCBiotech Writer

Durham-based Avista Pharma Solutions has been tapped by a Minneapolis research organization to manufacture an important component of a vaccine to combat opioid addiction.

The contract with Avista comes as the result of a three-year grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse to the Minneapolis Medical Research Foundation (MMRF), the nonprofit research arm of the Hennepin Healthcare System.

“Through this partnership, we are creating the synthetic small molecule that MMRF needs to continue its great work in protecting patients from opioid abuse or relapse,” said Brian Heasley, Ph.D., Avista’s manager of process chemistry and project lead.

Scientists at the Durham headquarters of Avista Pharma Solutions have a contract to make clinical research supplies for a unique opioid addiction vaccine. -- Avista images

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has registered Avista as a contract manufacturer approved to handle controlled substances. Chemists at the company’s Durham facility have synthesized the small molecule and will soon begin producing it, along with the associated conjugate vaccine needed to support clinical development.

Avista credits the Research Triangle region’s thriving life science community for contributing to its success.

 “Our RTP headquarters places us within the epicenter of innovation and provides critical access to a talented workforce” said Timothy Compton, vice president of business development at Avista. “We are fortunate to have one of our three company locations here in Durham as the facility provides crucial contributions that aid in the success of Avista Pharma as a whole.”

Avista employs more than 90 people at the Durham headquarters site, which was built by Scynexis in 2000 and acquired by Avista in 2015.

In additional to contract manufacturing, the company also conducts contract testing and development across three locations including Durham, Agawam, Massachusetts and Longmont, Colorado.

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