Leukaemia drug leads to new jobs
A pharmaceutical company is expanding and creating jobs after developing a child-friendly leukaemia treatment.
Nova Laboratories in Wigston has produced a liquid version of Mercaptopurine, a drug used to treat childhood leukaemia.
The firm believes between 80 to 90 per cent of patients under the age of eight diagnosed with an advanced form of leukaemia will be treated with their drug, Xaluprine.
Dr Peter White, Nova's managing and technical director, said the development of the treatment, the firm's first own brand product, would secure their long-term future.
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However, the firm did not disclose how much turnover would increase by or how many extra jobs would be created as a result.
Dr White said: "Xaluprine is our first own brand product, and will help secure the company's long-term future. It has taken a great deal of effort from many of Nova's employees to reach this milestone."
The new drug is a breakthrough because, until now, Mercaptopurine had only been available as an adult tablet, making it difficult for parents or carers to administer the correct dose to young children.
It has been authorised for sale throughout Europe and will be supplied to hospital pharmacies within the next two months.
Nova Laboratories was set up in 1994 by former NHS pharmacy staff. It manufactures complex and innovative experimental medicines for pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies.
It has taken the company, which employs 160 people, three years to develop the new treatment. The firm recently supplied clinical trials at Leicester Royal Infirmary into whether an extract from the curry spice turmeric could help cure bowel cancer.
Three years ago, the firm won a contract to make specialist bone cement for hip replacement patients and has also developed a treatment for children with life-threatening genetic conditions.
Dr White thanked East Midlands MEP Emma McClarkin, who supported the company when it was seeking approval from the European Commission to sell the product throughout Europe.
The MEP said: "It's great for the UK and the East Midlands that this licence has been awarded. It sends out a good message, and we should do all we can to champion innovative companies like Nova.
"The drug will hopefully make the lives of many children and parents easier."