Eli Lilly continues to find new ways to outsource R&D functions through strategic partnerships, this time transferring drug discovery capabilities to a new laboratory being built by bioanalytical contract research organisation Advion BioServices in Lilly’s home town of Indianapolis, US.

The transfer is part of a new, multi-year contract between Lilly and Advion, which has an existing partnership with the pharmaceutical multinational. Under the agreement, Advion will provide Lilly with a variety of drug discovery bioanalytical services to be conducted at the new facility in Indianapolis’ Purdue Research Park. No financial terms were disclosed.

Lilly will transition its own drug discovery bioanalytical capabilities to Advion and will offer employees affected by the move the opportunity to join Advion. The new laboratory is expected to be fully operational by the end of May 2011.

Advion said it would be hiring local talent to fill scientific and administrative positions at the 22,000sq ft facility, which will focus on earlier-stage bioanalytical services to evaluate how potential new medicines are absorbed and metabolised in experimental models. Much of this work will be data generation activities to prepare new molecules for entry into clinical testing, Advion added.

Operating out of Ithaca, New York, the company’s main business is later-stage bioanalytical drug development services as required by global regulatory agencies such as the US Food and Drug Administration. The expansion into Indianapolis was eased by support from the Indiana Economic Development Corporation and from BioCrossroads, the US state’s initiative for investment in, and development of, Indiana’s life sciences sector. 

Tom Kurz, president of Advion BioServices, said the drug discovery bioanalytical services in Indianapolis would be a “strategic complement” to the regulated drug development bioanalytical services provided by the company’s Ithaca and Manassas, Virginia laboratories.

“In addition to providing these services to Lilly, we are very pleased with the prospect of offering these services to our other clients, and see this as a significant opportunity to further grow this business and expand the size of our Indianapolis operation in the future,” Kurz commented.

A subsidiary of Advion BioSciences, Advion offers a range of Good Laboratory Practice-compliant and discovery bioanalytical services, including liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC/MS/MS) for determining small-molecule drugs, macromolecule therapies and biomarkers; immunoassay services; ADME (absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion) screening; cytochrome P450 inhibition and induction study support; metabolism profiling; metabolite identification; sample management; and sample storage.