Charles River Labs snaps up HemaCare, eyeing the growing cell therapy market

Charles River
Charles River says its work in the cell therapy arena is currently making around $100 million a year. (Charles River)

Charles River Labs is stumping up $380 million in cash to buy out cell therapy biomaterials producer HemaCare.

This will boost Charles River’s work in cell therapy by adding HemaCare’s ability to produce human-derived cellular products for this growing market.

It supplies biomaterials, including human primary cell types, and cell processing services to support the discovery, development and manufacture of cell therapies, including allogeneic (donor-derived cells) and autologous (patient-derived cells) programs.

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This builds on the hope and hype around cell therapies like CAR-T and their capacity to hit back at certain oncology targets, namely blood cancers.

The CRO said that the deal “will create a unique, comprehensive solution for cell therapy developers and manufacturers worldwide to help accelerate their critical programs from basic research and proof-of-concept to regulatory approval and commercialization.”

James Foster, chairman, president and CEO Charles River, said: “Cell and gene therapies are important new modalities, with an estimated 10 to 20 new product approvals per year within five years. In order to continue to enhance our ability to support our clients’ research efforts, particularly in biologics discovery and development, we are expanding our scientific capabilities in this emerging, high-growth market with the acquisition of HemaCare.

“The addition of HemaCare’s innovative cell therapy products and services to our integrated, early-stage solutions will create a unique, go-to partner for clients to work with Charles River across a comprehensive cell therapy portfolio from idea to novel therapeutic.”

RELATED: Charles River swoops on early-stage CRO Citoxlab

Pete van der Wal, president and CEO of HemaCare, added: “We are very pleased to be joining the Charles River team, which is widely recognized as the industry-leading, early-stage contract research organization. Partnering with Charles River will strengthen the value proposition for our clients, enabling them to work seamlessly with one scientific partner to enhance the speed and efficiency with which they can advance their cell therapies. The transaction will offer compelling value to our shareholders. This is an exciting day that will usher in a new era for HemaCare and my talented colleagues.”

Cell therapy is becoming a focus for biopharma, but the relatively new area requires cutting-edge tech to help nurture new research like CAR-T into an established market.

Charles River says its work in the area is currently making around $100 million a year, but it sees the “addressable market for HemaCare’s products is expected to increase from approximately $200 million today to nearly $2 billion in 10 years” and wants to be a part of that.

While spending nearly $400 million in cash (the company had a market cap of $257 million at the end of play last week, with Charles River paying a 33% premium), HemaCare “is expected to immediately drive profitable revenue growth, with estimated revenue growth of at least 30% annually over the next five years,” the CRO estimated.

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