Charles River buys immunology player KWS BioTest for $20M

Tumors
Charles River Laboratories acquires British immunology CRO KWS BioTest for about $20 million.

Charles River Laboratories has snapped up British CRO KWS BioTest for £15 million ($20 million), enhancing its offerings in immuno-oncology and inflammatory and infectious diseases.

KWS specializes in offering in vitro and in vivo testing services in the larger area of immunology, including target identification and validation, lead optimization, in vivo disease models and clinical sample analysis.

“The addition of KWS strategically expands Charles River’s existing discovery capabilities in the field of immunology, which is critical given the importance of new therapies which harness the human immune system,” said Charles River chairman, president and CEO James Foster, in a statement.

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Recent research progress in immuno-oncology, most notably checkpoint inhibitors and the recent CAR-T therapies, have clearly sparked growing interest from biopharma companies as developers and CROs as service supporters. The KWS acquisition follows two other CRO consolidations with a focus on immunology/immuno-oncology: Cancer Genetics’ $12 million deal for Australian CRO vivoPharm last August and Concept Life Sciences’ November purchase of Aquila BioMedical.

Charles River itself has also been building up its oncology offerings. It recently formed a collaboration with InSphero to build in vitro 3D tumor microtissues from patient-derived xenographs (PDXs) for more accurate evaluation of cancer treatments. It also added more molecular characteristics to its library of PDXs back in May.

The CRO giant also pledged an additional £3 million for KWS based on its future performance and said the transaction wasn’t expected to substantially affect its 2018 results.