Chiesi renews respiratory drug discovery deal with Charles River

Charles River Laboratories extends respiratory drug discovery program with Chiesi Farmaceutici.

Charles River Laboratories has sealed the extension of a previous six-year early drug discovery contract in the field of respiratory disease with Chiesi Farmaceutici.

The CRO will provide the Italian healthcare company its expertise in drug discovery, including, according to a press release by Charles River, medicinal chemistry, ADME/DMPK studies, in vitro and in vivo models, and pharmacodynamic testing. The aim is to help Chiesi identify promising candidates for preclinical development.

The CRO’s track record in assisting inhaled drug discovery and development, “coupled with their expertise in end-to-end respiratory drug design, has made Charles River a strong partner for us in the field of respiratory research,” said Mark Parry Billings, Chiesi’s corporate drug development head, in a statement.

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In what Birgit Girshick, corporate SVP of global discovery at Charles River, described as an “extremely productive” partnership since 2011, the two have filed many patents and developed several drug candidates in the field.

Last year, for example, according to the company's posts with information from the World Intellectual Property Organization, of the six published patents the CRO participated in respiratory health, five were filed by Chiesi. An “aminoester derivatives” patent lists three Charles Rivers scientists as co-inventors, as identified by a media aide at the CRO.

But for companies as big as those two, it’s natural that they’re not exclusive to each other. Chiesi, a recognized expert in respiratory diseases pharmaceutical development and care, reached a deal with Aptuit in January to develop new drugs for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. The Greenwich, Connecticut-based CRO is also an industry leader in drug design and discovery.

Charles River, on the other hand, has been conducting respiratory researches for more than 16 years, starting even before it built a connection with Chiesi. Its scientists have been named as co-inventors on about 70 respiratory patents filed and produced 25 preclinical development candidates, said the company.

Even though the CRO cited confidentiality reasons for not disclosing its other clients, the one respiratory drug patent the CRO helped filed in 2016 that didn't belong to Chiesi, for example, was actually from Roche and its Genentech unit.