certara-logoCertara, the leading provider of decision support technology and consulting services for optimizing drug development and improving health outcomes, has announced that it is extending its activities relating to drug safety assessment by establishing a new strategic Quantitative Systems Toxicology (QST) initiative.

The initiative, which will be managed by the company’s Simcyp division, leverages its Quantitative Systems Pharmacology (QSP) expertise and the investment already made in the development of its Cardiac Safety Simulator (CSS).

In addition to the strategic and sizeable resources that Certara has already committed to this initiative, the launch is strengthened by the award of several significant grants, including the EU-ToxRisk project, a collaboration with the US EPA to accelerate the shift in toxicology towards a new mechanism-based chemical safety testing strategy.

Simcyp’s work will focus on developing organ-specific mechanistic models to strengthen drug safety assessments. This work will further enable the industry to move away from animal testing toward mechanistic modeling of the cause-consequence relationships of chemical adverse effects.

“Thirty per cent of adverse drug reactions cannot be predicted by current preclinical animal testing and existing modelling methodologies,” said Certara Chief Executive Officer Edmundo Muniz, MD, PhD. “Mechanistic modelling, and specifically QST, has the potential to address this very sizeable challenge. We believe that the time is right to invest in this paradigm-shifting approach and form this new programme within Simcyp.”

“We have been encouraged both by the award of various publicly-funded grants and by our pharmaceutical industry clients, to extend and expand our activities in the area of QST beyond cardiac safety assessment and more broadly embrace all drug safety areas,” said Simcyp President and Managing Director Steve Toon, PhD.

“As with physiologically based pharmacokinetics and QSP, the market, recognizing deficiencies in currently commercially available drug safety related software and consultancy services, has turned to Simcyp with its demonstrated commitment to high quality, peer-review research and software development, to harness the increasing understanding of the mechanistic determinants of drug-related toxicities and develop predictive software tools for use in the continued drive to improve drug safety.”

QST takes toxicology beyond characterizing adverse events on the basis of empirical endpoints and focuses instead on modes of action and adverse outcome pathways. It integrates in vitroand in vivo toxicity data with the wealth of “omics data” (genomics, proteomics, metabolomics, etc.) available via computational modelling. “Off-target” reactions are critical to understanding adverse safety events because these reactions cannot be predicted from a drug’s known pharmacological properties.

Certara is the first company in the industry to offer fully integrated QSP and QST biosimulation services, allowing for a simultaneous assessment of efficacy, safety, and therapeutic index. This holistic, quantitative approach to managing risk-benefits is essential in complex drug development programmes such as immuno-oncology combination therapies.