Who We Are

We are a team of experienced scientists and innovators, passionate about helping to solve significant human health challenges through biomedical research.

From our commitment to knowing and improving the human condition through science comes our name: Virscio (vir’sio)

The pace of biomedical progress is accelerating . . .

We are in a therapeutic development transformation enabled by expanding understanding of pathophysiology and the advent of tools to study and modulate disease biology in precise ways.  These advances bring hope that the resulting therapies will provide clinicians and patients new and individualized treatments for unmet medical needs.  After decades of research this promise is becoming reality, and these new therapeutic modalities are achieving clinical approval and significant impact on patients’ lives. 

. . . but advances are outpacing the progress of preclinical model systems.

While there is reason for optimism, research and development efficiency - as measured by successful approval and launch of new therapeutic products - has been declining.  A significant contributor has been the limited capacity of applied preclinical models to accurately predict human response.  As commitments and investments in biologics, gene and cell therapies, and precision medicine approaches continue to expand, it is critical that the most clinically relevant test systems are employed to ensure programs are de-risked prior to undertaking the significant investment in human trials.

Our Mission

To accelerate therapeutic innovation and R&D efficiency by  developing and providing advanced preclinical models, methods and technologies.

Our integrated preclinical research and development capabilities, multidisciplinary nonhuman primate translational focus and animal welfare commitments are unmatched anywhere in the world, empowering pursuit of our mission:

To accelerate therapeutic innovation and R&D efficiency by  developing and providing advanced preclinical models, methods and technologies.

Our integrated preclinical research and development capabilities, multidisciplinary nonhuman primate translational focus and animal welfare commitments are unmatched anywhere in the world, empowering pursuit of our mission:

To establish and apply the best models, tools and technologies to biomedical development

We improve the prediction of clinical outcomes by the humane and sustainable application of optimized nonhuman primate models and endpoints.

To reduce time, cost and risk

We accelerate the selection and development of candidate therapeutics to reduce the time and cost to clinical trial and risk of clinical failure and human harm.

To innovate

We are committed to developing next generation technologies and services that drive gains in research and development productivity and reduction in animal use.

To reduce time, cost and risk

We accelerate the selection and development of candidate therapeutics to reduce the time and cost to clinical trial and risk of clinical failure and human harm.

To reduce time, cost and risk

We accelerate the selection and development of candidate therapeutics to reduce the time and cost to clinical trial and risk of clinical failure and human harm.

To establish and apply the best models, tools and technologies to biomedical development

We improve the prediction of clinical outcomes by the humane and sustainable application of optimized nonhuman primate models and endpoints.

To innovate

We are committed to developing next generation technologies and services that drive gains in research and development productivity and reduction in animal use.

Our Solution

We address translational risks by applying the most up to date understanding of human pathophysiology to inform the development and validation of more predictive preclinical models of human disease and therapeutic delivery.  Our focused approach to solving these challenges is enabled by unparalled preclinical experience and capabilities, including:

  • Deep therapeutic area domain expertise 
  • Industry leading initiation timelines and data reporting
  • Flexible, hands-on engagement tailored to objectives
  • Commitment to generating definitive, actionable study outcomes and conclusions
  • Extensive portfolio of validated efficacy and safety models and delivery methods
  • Humane, sustainable access to a large, biologically clean nonhuman primate population

As stewards of our unique biological resources, and an AAALAC accredited, GLP-compliant organization, we maintain the very highest ethical and scientific standards to drive the best possible study designs, data analysis, and animal care and use.  We embrace these responsibilities and are recognized internationally for this commitment.

Our Science

Preclinical in vivo studies remain an essential means of characterizing and predicting the human response to novel therapeutic interventions and are required by health authorities to assess safety prior to clinical development. In vivo evaluations in non-primate species that evolutionarily diverge more significantly from humans often fail to predict clinical outcomes for a variety of established and emerging therapeutic classes. This contributes to substantially reduced research and development productivity, stalled therapeutic advances, and animal utilization that does not contribute to improved human health outcomes. The humane and ethical use of the most clinically relevant in vivo test systems is essential to produce data sufficiently predictive to reduce the considerable risk and cost of clinical candidate efficacy failure or adverse effect. Our improved health care future depends on the thoughtful and compassionate application of biomedical research resources to which Virscio is fully committed.

Virscio’s biomedical research platform is enabled by our access to African green monkeys, a non-endangered, Old World species introduced to the island of St. Kitts. This biologically clean population is readily sourced in a humane manner to support translational development programs and has a well-defined genetic background favorable for study designs with minimal necessary sample sizes.

Scientific expertise, collaborative engagement and access to unparalleled primate research resources positions Virscio as an ideal translational partner to efficiently generate definitive, actionable data that reduce the time, cost and risk of development for ophthalmic, central nervous system, metabolic, cardiovascular and other therapeutic indications.

Gene Therapy

Non-primate animal models, especially smaller species, offer advantages of cost and throughput, but often lack the relevant genetic, anatomic, biochemical or immunologic characteristics to accurately predict human biodistribution, safety and therapeutic effect.  Given the cell surface proteins critical to the determination of viral capsid binding and transgene delivery, the genetic and immunologic homology of employed test species is of heightened importance for viral vector gene therapy candidate testing.   Nonhuman primates are essential to filling this translational gap.  The St. Kitts green monkey is of specific value to gene therapy testing with a historic isolation from common viruses employed as gene vectors and low prevalence of neutralizing antibodies.  Coupled with Virscio’s broad gene therapy experience, our primate test systems provide critical value in the definition of safe and effective vector delivery methods, achieved biodistribution, immunological response and cell-specific transgene expression, all of which are critical determinants of clinical efficacy and safety.

Ophthalmology

The green monkey eye is over half the size of the human eye, with proportionate ratios of neuroretina, vitreous chamber, lens and anterior chamber volumes, and very similar aqueous production and outflow dynamics.  This anatomy and physiology is ideal for pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic evaluation of candidate compounds, devices and gene and cell therapies following traditional and experimental routes of administration.  The green monkey also shares a macula, which defines humans and primates as a highly visual species, and allows modeling of macular degeneration and other diseases of the central retina not possible in non-primates.  A similarly closely shared microvascular anatomy of the optic nerve and the presence of a lamina cribrosa, exacerbates sensitivity to vascular occlusion and compression of the vessels and retinal ganglion axons channeling through the optic nerve, allowing uniquely predictive modeling of human glaucoma.  Enabled by this homology we have validated the green monkey as a test system for evaluation of a number of ophthalmic therapeutic objectives. Virscio regularly applies human clinical ophthalmic instrumentation and clinical endpoints to address questions critical to therapeutic effect preclinically.

Central Nervous System

Nonhuman primate studies are essential to developing effective treatments for central nervous system (CNS) disease. They allow the pursuit of in vivo interventional experiments in a system highly homologous to humans.  Research on patients and human tissues has contributed greatly to our knowledge of CNS pathology, but clinical studies of novel treatments are appropriately ethically constrained and are confounded by the inability to experimentally control necessary variables.  While rodent models remain widely deployed, there are limitations to the resulting data, including that from genetic models given that monogenetic causes of CNS pathology are uncommon. For CNS translational evaluation the use of nonhuman primates such as the green monkey has distinct advantages. They share greater homology to humans than other species in genomics, pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics neurophysiology, neurochemistry, endocrinology, immunology, neuronal network complexity, behavioral specializations, cognitive processing, and synaptic regulation in addition to the organization and function of the hippocampus, prefrontal cortex, and other regions relevant to important disease such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and schizophrenia.  Virscio applies deep neuroscience expertise and methodological capabilities to healthy and disease relevant CNS test systems to address critical translational objectives.

Precision Medicine

It has long been the objective in medicine to tailor therapies to the unique circumstances of a given patient to achieve more effective outcomes with fewer side effects.   The advent of biologics and gene therapies with significantly greater targeting specificity have brought the tools and means to pursue precision medicine at an accelerating pace, but testing such candidates demands evaluation in predictive test systems that emulate critical aspects of clinical application.   Whether that critical aspect is a safe, effective intrathecal administration regimen of a biologic, or the subretinal delivery of an AAV vector, or evaluating within a specific phenotype, Virscio is positioned to perform the most robust possible preclinical modeling of your precision medicine intervention.

Clinically Relevant Biology

Nonhuman primates (NHPs) provide a critical translational bridge in the extension of in vitro and rodent findings to the understanding of human physiology and disease. The green monkey is among the most commonly studied NHP species and as an Old World monkey among the most genetically and physiologically homologous to humans. The translational value of the species has been greatly expanded by completion of the reference genome, and the creation of a comprehensive online brain anatomic resource, including a cryomacrotome anatomic atlas and composite MRI atlas. These databases, along with existing and ongoing genotyping and phenotyping of the species in healthy and disease states at Virscio and by others is rapidly establishing the St. Kitts green monkey as the most comprehensively characterized NHP for systems biology and genomic and epigenomic research to inform understanding of human disease and therapeutic response.

Our Team

Matthew Lawrence

Chief Executive Officer & Chief Scientific Officer

Christopher Stanley

Chief Business Officer & Chief Financial Officer

Ben Culp

Director of Research Operations

Wenzheng Hu

Director of Ophthalmic Research

Shervin Liddie

Director of Translation

John Elsworth

Principal Scientist

Dustin Wakeman

Senior Scientist

Merissa O’Connor

Research Scientist

Chintan Patel

Research Scientist

Our Reach

Our Sponsors

Virscio conducts critical translational studies for sponsors and collaborators across the globe.

Our Locations

Virscio maintains state-of-the-art research facilities at two locations to meet client needs.  Data management, sample logistics, wet lab analytics and administrative operations are headquartered in Science Park, New Haven, Connecticut.   Vivarium and in-life study operations are based in St. Kitts, West Indies, a highly accessible and hospitable primate source country, home to an abundance of introduced African green monkeys.

Our Affiliations

In addition to serving the R&D needs of innovative organizations around the world, Virscio is a proud member of many industry organizations that share our mission of advancing biomedical innovation and improving clinical outcomes. 

Careers

Virscio is seeking creative, experienced and highly motivated individuals with the ability to lead and contribute to multidisciplinary initiatives. Virscio offers an exciting and congenial environment in which your creativity and innovation will be encouraged and rewarded. We invite CVs submitted to jobs@virscio.com for the following positions.

Contact Us

Reach out to us by phone or email

General inquiries
info@virscio.com