Minneapolis Medical Research Foundation Selects Avista Pharma Solutions, Inc. to Support Development of an Opioid Addiction Vaccine

Manufacturing And Development Partnership To Produce
Conjugate Vaccine to Combat Substance Abuse


DURHAM, N.C., May 15, 2017 – Avista Pharma Solutions, Inc. (“Avista Pharma”) today announced the Minneapolis Medical Research Foundation (MMRF), a nonprofit subsidiary of the Hennepin Healthcare System, Inc. in Minneapolis, has contracted the company to manufacture an opioid-derived small molecule, a key component of a conjugate vaccine in development to treat opioid addiction. The research is funded by a three-year grant to the MMRF from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.


Avista Pharma is registered with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to handle controlled substances, such as opioids. The manufacturing process to synthesize the small molecule, including cGMP production, also aligns well with the services provided by the company’s Durham facility.


“We are very optimistic about a positive outcome, as we have a great team of chemists working on this compound and are about to enter the critical stage of GMP manufacturing,” said Dr. Brian Heasley, manager of process chemistry at Avista Pharma and project lead. “Through this partnership, we are creating the synthetic small molecule that MMRF needs to continue their great work in protecting patients from opioid abuse or relapse.”


Through this collaboration, MMRF now has the small molecule component required to optimize the bioconjugation stage of the synthetic vaccine’s overall manufacturing process. GMP production of the molecule and associated conjugate vaccine to support clinical development will follow shortly thereafter.


“This is another great opportunity for us to demonstrate our organization’s capabilities in working with controlled substances and the synthesis of novel small molecules,” said Timothy Compton, vice president of business development at Avista Pharma. “We want to thank the Minneapolis Medical Research Foundation for enlisting our expertise and trusting us with the development of this important compound.”


Opioid abuse is a serious public health issue, as drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the United States according to Marco Pravetoni, Ph.D., MMRF researcher, Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Minnesota Medical School and one of the study’s principal investigators. Overdoses most commonly involve heroin and prescription opioid drugs, such as oxycodone, hydrocodone and fentanyl.



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About Avista Pharma Solutions, Inc.:

Avista Pharma, a portfolio company of Ampersand Capital Partners, is a contract testing, development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) encompassing more than 200,000 square feet of laboratory and manufacturing space across three locations (Agawam, Massachusetts; Durham, North Carolina and Longmont, Colorado), providing pharmaceutical, animal health and medical device clients a broad suite of scientifically-differentiated services, ranging from early stage API and Drug Product discovery, development and cGMP manufacturing, to standalone analytical and microbiology testing support. For more information about Avista Pharma Solutions, Inc., please visit us at www.avistapharma.com.


About Ampersand Capital Partners:

Ampersand is a middle market private equity firm with a focus on growth equity investments in the healthcare sector. Over the past two decades, Ampersand has managed more than $1 billion in private equity partnerships. Ampersand leverages its unique blend of private equity and operating experience to build value and drive superior long-term performance alongside its portfolio company management teams. Additional information about Ampersand is available at www.ampersandcapital.com.



The Minneapolis Medical Research Foundation (MMRF) is a subsidiary of Hennepin Healthcare System, Inc., and operates as the research arm of Hennepin County Medical Center, an acute care research and teaching hospital in Minneapolis. MMRF is one of the largest nonprofit medical research organizations in Minnesota and consistently ranks in the top 10 percent of all institutions receiving research funding from the National Institutes of Health. To learn more, visit www.mmrf.org.



Funding for this study was supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number U01DA038876. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.



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MMI Public Relations

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