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Asterand names Dr Dalia Cohen chief scientific officer

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Asterand PLC (LON:ATD), a provider of human tissue and human tissue-based research services to pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies engaged in drug discovery research, announced the appointment of Dalia Cohen Ph.D. as its chief scientific officer.

Cohen will have global responsibility for shaping and leading the company’s scientific positioning and strategy. She joins Asterand from Rosetta Genomics, a developer of microRNA-based molecular diagnostics, where she currently serves as CSO.

Cohen has fifteen years experience working in several executive positions at Novartis Pharmaceuticals, including: VP and global head for Strategic Enabling Technologies and VP and global head of Functional Genomics.

Asterand CEO Martyn Coombs commented:  “Dr. Cohen is a recognised name and leader in our field, and has a reputation as an innovative scientist with an in-depth knowledge of drug discovery and development, oncology, personalised medicine and diagnostics. She is extremely well connected amongst the pharmaceutical community and academia.

“Asterand now has twenty Ph.Ds, and with Dr. Cohen leading our science, we believe that she can help us move our company to the next level, and help us better serve our customers.”

CSO Cohen said:  “Pharmaceutical and diagnostic companies are using human based methods in research, and I believe that this will increase dramatically in future years.

“Asterand has built a unique and strong position in human biospecimen quality and breadth, and in PhaseZERO services. In addition, through the acquisition of BioSeek, Asterand has added the possibility of using sophisticated human primary cell based models and screening to predict at an early stage whether compounds will work in patients,” she added.

In a note published at the end of August in the wake of the company's interim results, broker Daniel Stewart & Company (DS&C) was encouraged by the report, noting the diversification of the client base and cost reductions.

This was Asterand's response to a slowdown in research and development spending in the pharmaceutical industry, which was reflected in the interim report, said DS&C. The cost base was slashed by US$0.3 million per month, while the top ten clients made up 45% of the total revenues instead of the previous 61%.

Asterand had said it was increasingly optimistic about its prospects after the recently-aquired BioSeek - the developer of proprietary human cell-based, high throughput assay systems called BioMAP - made a strong contribution to H1 revenues.

During the first half, four collaboration agreements were signed and extended with BioSeek clients. The integration of BioSeek is on track with revenues flowing in at expected levels and poised for an increase in H2.

CEO Coombs had commented in August: "We are pleased that our base business revenues have held up, despite turbulent economic headwinds and persistent R&D retrenchment within the pharmaceutical and biotech sectors.

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