Ex-AstraZeneca researchers launch new CRO

Big Pharma's bid to shed in-house drug development continues to create turmoil for the thousands of scientists who have lost or will lose their jobs as the industry streamlines. But rather than dwell on the losses, some former AstraZeneca ($AZN) employees are eyeing CRO dollar signs.

Outsourcing-Pharma reports that three ex-AstraZeneca research scientists--Kevin Hart, Garry Allenby and Kathy Dodgson--are trying to tap into some of the increased anticipated demand for more CROs through their launch of Aurelia Bioscience, a niche outfit based just 20 miles from a former AstraZeneca site near Loughborough, U.K., that closed last year.

According to the company's website, the enterprise launched in mid-2011 and moved into its current space last November. Aurelia is promoting preclinical drug discovery experience and pursuing work in such areas as high-throughput screening, cell culture and phenotypic screening.

Allenby, Aurelia's business development director, told Outsourcing-Pharma his company reflects a trend that will only grow larger as the pharmaceutical industry pursues its historic restructuring.

"We are witnessing the growth of drug discovery outside large pharmaceutical companies," he explained, "as the sector re-balances itself from centralized in-house research to outsourcing."

Talk about taking a lemon and making lemonade. Aurelia's launch in recent months comes with AstraZeneca's announcement earlier this month that it would slash 7,300 jobs, half of which would focus on R&D and operations, with a bid to eliminate $1.6 billion in annual costs.

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