Indian CRO GVK buys its way into biologics with Aragen deal

India's GVK Biosciences has signed a deal to acquire Aragen Bioscience, a California-headquartered preclinical CRO, in an effort to tap into the booming demand for biologics development and expand its stateside market.

Without disclosing financial details, GVK said the deal will augment its strengths in small-molecule studies by bolting on some high-value biologics services, as Aragen's platform includes discovery, characterization, activity assessment and early development. Furthermore, marrying GVK's global scale with Aragen's expertise will help the two grow their reach faster than possible on their own, GVK chairman D.S. Brar said.

"As an increasing number of biotech and pharmaceutical companies focus on protein-based therapeutics and biosimilars, the acquisition of Aragen Bioscience will strategically enhance GVK Bio's ability to offer high-quality R&D services to the industry from a seamless, integrated platform," Brar said in a statement.

The deal marks the Hyderabad-based GVK's first international acquisition, and the CRO has been fast expanding its reach over the past few years, growing to employ 2,400 people. The company in part made its name on GOSTAR, a proprietary database of biological targets, which GVK has licensed to drugmakers, academics and even the FDA.

Over the past year, GVK has signed research agreements with Endo Health Solutions ($ENDP) and Onconova ($ONTX), and the company's list of partners includes Astellas and Bayer.

- read the announcement