Preclinical I/O CRO Aquila BioMedical expands with local grant

Scottish contract research org Aquila BioMedical has expanded its lab space and capabilities as it looks to be ready for a boost in demand for its early-stage immuno-oncology and histology services.

The niche company, which was originally set up by academics coming out of the University of Edinburgh in Scotland in 2011, has been helped in its growth from an investment by the Scottish Enterprise’s Regional Selective Assistance grant.

This, the CRO says in a statement, has allowed it to “accelerate its recruitment plans and expand through investment in people and capital equipment.”

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This includes adding extra capacity that sees it offer assays using the IncuCyte Zoom, something it says allows its scientists to deliver insights into cellular processes, such as T-cell killing of tumors, via “real-time quantitative live-cell analysis.”

This team, which is now 14 strong but has more than doubled in the last year, is likely to reach 22 in 2017, it said.

Clare Doris, chief operating officer at Aquila BioMedical, said: “Since our company formed in 2011, it has been our goal to bring innovative models and a new dynamic CRO experience to biotech and pharmaceutical companies across the world. In recent years, we have strategically developed our expert immunology offering, establishing a significant presence in immuno-oncology and building services to deliver high end mechanistic biology in an area of large unmet demand.

“This year has proven a phenomenal success. Our expert team has provided high value data to our international client base, allowing go/no-go decisions to be made earlier in the drug development process and ultimately reducing clinical attrition. As the cancer immunotherapy field is evolving rapidly, many of our clients are now seeking to understand questions about potential combination therapies and we have the assays to deliver this information.”

As well as the funding boost and expansion, Aquila Histoplex--which specializes in histology, RNAscope and multiplex immunofluorescent staining services--has also been “formally integrated” into the CRO. The division is designed to help with biomarkers and target expression in tumor tissues.   

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