Contractor ABL snags an immune-focused CRO

Maryland's ABL has struck a deal to buy a majority stake in Platine Pharma Services, a French contract R&D organization that specializes in substances that provoke an immune response.

Without disclosing financial details, ABL said bringing in Platine will give it a leg up as the industry increasingly focuses on immunotherapies for cancer and inflammatory disease. The Lyon-headquartered Platine offers a broad range of in vitro services to track the immunogenicity of compounds in any stage of development, according to ABL. Founded in 2011, the company has made its name performing complex assays of key immune markers in various diseases.

Now, under ABL's wing, Platine's technology will fold into an existing end-to-end service offering that includes early research and contract manufacturing, CEO Thomas VanCott said.

"This acquisition also represents a significant step in the strategic growth of ABL, providing a European-based facility for clinical and other sample processing and immunomonitoring analyses," VanCott said in a statement. "With laboratories based in France and the U.S., ABL is better positioned to support our clients' increasingly global clinical development strategies."

ABL splits its business between contract research, handling mostly preclinical studies, and contract manufacturing, where it focuses on biologics.

The company's 50-plus-year history has seen it operate under a few names and owners, culminating in a 2001 acquisition by French life sciences magnate bioMérieux. In 2004, bioMérieux spun ABL off into an independent entity, and it has done business as such ever since, expanding its services and moving into a 72,000-square-foot operation in Rockville, MD, in 2011.

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