In this modern, innovative and sustainable facility, unique in Europe, SGS is contributing to the creation of a healthier and safer society.
The newly built SGS CPU, aimed at early phase research, is strategically located next to the University Hospital of Antwerp (UZA) and highlights SGS's vision to nurture and build on this existing operation. For over 40 years, SGS has been closing the gap between molecule and human, conducting complex and innovative Phase I-IIa clinical trials, where drugs are tested, often for the first time, in humans. Its proximity to UZA reinforces scientific collaboration with a network of specialists and techniques.
This was backed up by Frankie Ng, SGS CEO, who commented: “The past year and a half has shone a light on the importance of clinical research and drug development. By moving into this fantastic new facility, SGS will play a key role in shaping the future of the global pharmaceutical industry.”
"Our proximity to Antwerp University Hospital means that expertise is never far away. By joining forces, we are strengthening and broadening our capabilities for early phase clinical research. This new and innovative facility positions SGS at the forefront of clinical research and helps us contribute to a healthier and safer society over the coming years," said SGS Benelux Managing Director, John Pype.
With an experienced team of experts and over 200 staff, the SGS CPU ensures smooth and efficient early phase study execution. From a database of more than 13,000 potential trial participants, the most suitable healthy people for clinical trials are selected through a variety of criteria and trials. During a stay in the SGS CPU, the safety and mechanisms of action of the potential drug are mapped. SGS CPU collaborates on clinical trials for a variety of drugs. For example, SGS CPU has recently been actively involved in several vaccine clinical trials in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
This new state-of-the-art CPU is a modern, sustainable and innovative facility. With a capacity of 110 beds, unique in Europe, a wide range of settings can be provided. Study participants stay in 2 to 8-person rooms, or in individual rooms, and have access to comfortable living and leisure areas. A high-care room allows accurate follow-up during first-in-human testing of new drugs. Two specialized quarantine units are available for controlled investigation of infection models or controlled human infection models (CHIM). In recent years, the SGS CPU has conducted the first malaria challenge studies in Belgium with its own developed H3N2 (flu) virus.
In addition, the new CPU has invested heavily in innovative and sustainable technical capabilities: a Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) production unit with clean rooms level D, C and B for sterile study drug preparations, a centrally located laboratory to facilitate complex sample processing and the use of the latest bed-side monitoring (telemetry). Environmental and sustainability issues have also been anticipated. For this, chilled and heated via climatic caps are combined with heat pumps. The roof is green and equipped with solar panels and daylight is maximized. Automated water taps and drinking fountains have been installed as well as light steering and solar blinds. Also, the outdoor environment is sustainably landscaped with flower ponds and infiltration ponds and sustainably managed.
It is clear that with a team of top experts in this state-of-the-art clinical pharmacology unit, SGS is looking to focus on the future with increasingly complex clinical trials.
"Challenge studies will continue to play a key role in the development of drug and infectious disease vaccines in the future. These studies can be a crucial time-saving step in the clinical development of antiviral drugs, for example, by showing efficiency and safety in a controlled environment quickly and safely. That is why we have also decided to focus on expanding our quarantine capacity. This will enable us to conduct studies with a wide range of study participants more efficiently and quickly," explained Annick van Riel, Director Clinical Pharmacology Unit, SGS.
In Belgium and the Netherlands, with a network of 47 offices and laboratories with 3,800 employees in various segments, SGS is a key and leading stakeholder. With over 700 employees in Belgium, clinical research and drug development is an important milestone, and the new SGS CPU marks a new milestone.
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