Charles River Laboratories spends $83M to snap up Distributed Bio to boost antibody work

Charles River
(Charles River)

After a two-year partnership, early-stage CRO Charles River Labs has decided to buy out next-gen antibody discovery company Distributed Bio.

Charles River is paying $83 million in cash for the South San Francisco company, with $21 million also on the table and payable “based on future performance.”

For that cash, the CRO gets its hands on Distributed Bio’s so-called SuperHuman antibody libraries and integrated antibody optimization tech, which are designed to help support antibody and cell and gene therapy candidates for biopharma.

Its large-molecule discovery platform “improves the chance of successful hit finding, reduces optimization requirements, and thereby expedites the antibody discovery process by several months,” according to a statement.

The buyout, which comes two years after the pair first partnered up, will bring together Distributed Bio’s antibody libraries and immuno-engineering platform with Charles River’s drug discovery and nonclinical development expertise to “create an integrated, end-to-end platform for therapeutic antibody and cell and gene therapy discovery and development.”

This comes after the Wilmington, Massachusetts-based contract research company saw revenue up to $743.3 million in the third quarter, a jump of 11.3% from last year’s third-quarter figures, as it manages to ride out the COVID-19 storm thanks largely to organic growth and the fact that it is a nonclinical CRO.

RELATED: Charles River Labs sees strong Q3 growth, CEO lauds 'resilience of our business model'

“The addition of Distributed Bio’s next-generation antibody discovery capabilities further enhances Charles River’s unique ability to serve as a single-source partner to support our clients’ early-stage research,” said James Foster, chairman, president and CEO of Charles River.

“Our successful partnership has already generated significant client interest and we believe our broader platform will continue to attract new discovery business opportunities. Distributed Bio’s large-molecule discovery platform fills a gap in our portfolio and expands our early discovery expertise in a complex drug modality that few CROs can successfully offer.

“With its focus on speed and design efficiency, we believe the acquisition of Distributed Bio will enable us to build upon the more than 80 novel small molecule candidates that we have discovered for our clients and meet our goal of eliminating an additional year from our clients’ early-stage development timelines.”

Distributed Bio made around $15 million last year and will now become part of Charles River’s discovery and safety assessment segment.