Concept buys preclinical CRO that specializes in immunology, immuno-oncology

Based at Edinburgh’s BioQuarter, Acquila offers preclinical services in immunology and immuno-oncology. (Concept Life Sciences)

Concept Life Sciences has acquired preclinical CRO Aquila BioMedical, adding expertise in immuno-oncology, immunology and multiplex histology.  

Concept's search for adding translational biology capabilities to complement its existing medicinal chemistry and biology services went for a while before it sets eyes on Aquila. “The company’s offering in translational biology adds significant value to our current discovery services,” Concept executive chairman, Michael Fort, said of Aquila.

“Large-molecule research has been beyond our reach until now,” Fort told FierceCRO. Before Aquila, Concept has to rely on partnering or outsourcing for such researches.


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Founded in 2011 by academics from the University of Edinburgh, Aquila offers services related to oncology, biomarker discovery and target expression, spanning a wide range of in vitro and in vivo proof-of-concept studies.

In immunology, for example, Aquila develops an MBP-Tracker screening platform, which incorporates sophisticated in vitro and ex vivo analysis. In vitro assays assess large numbers of compounds’ myelin-reactive T-cell responses, and its unique experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis model can provide not only efficacy data, but also mode-of-action data, allowing assessment of traceable, antigen-reactive cells ex vivo.

Aquila also has strong academic links and expertise in many inflammation and central nervous system areas, such as asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, liver fibrosis, neuropathic pain and spinal cord injury.

Based at Edinburgh’s BioQuarter, Aquila has a team of 25 staff. Fort told FierceCRO that Aquila’s location dovetails well with Concept's existing facilities. The acquisition came hard on the heels with Concept's 30% increase in its scientific capacity at Alderley Park’s Mereside campus in Cheshire, U.K.

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