MDS Pharma Services, the US-based contract research business whose Phase II-IV operations are being sold off by its parent company to INC Research, is accentuating its new commitment to early-stage drug development by renovating and expanding its discovery pharmacology arm in Taiwan.

The project, which is scheduled for completion in 2010, will significantly broaden and upgrade capabilities across the range of activities supported by the Taiwan facility, namely molecular screening and profiling as well as in vivo safety and efficacy testing.

For example, MDS Pharma noted, in vivo capacity will be doubled and will include dedicated space tailored to individual client needs. The site’s automated molecular screening and profiling capability will be improved with additional robotic high-throughput screening capacity and analytical support.

“This new and expanded facility will cement our position as the global leader in the discovery pharmacology space, where we are one of the top two providers of molecular screening and a key supplier of in vivo efficacy and safety testing,” commented MDS Pharma Services president David Spaight.

“This investment builds on a 40-year track record of success in this service area, and supports our recently announced strategic focus on the Discovery through Phase IIa Proof-of-Concept segment of the outsourcing market.”

The company’s Canadian parent, MDS, is also looking for a suitable buyer for MDS Pharma Services’ Central Labs business, which includes more than 600 employees across six sites in Europe, North America and Asia.

The Taiwan site is part of MDS Pharma Services’ Pharmacology/DMPK offering, which includes molecular, cellular, ADME/DMPK (Absorption, Distribution, Metabolism and Excretion/ Drug Metabolism and Pharmacokinetics) and in vivo assays for use in identifying lead drug candidates, profiling for selectivity, determining potential for adverse events, evaluating efficacy and establishing proof of concept.