PPD bets on drug discovery with X-Chem deal

PPD is buying up the entirety of X-Chem, which operates as a biotech within a CRO, marking a vote of confidence in the continued demand for drug discovery services.

The company first acquired a controlling interest in the Waltham, MA-headquartered X-Chem in 2010, a deal that gave PPD until this fall to decide whether to pick up the rest. In the ensuing four years, X-Chem has grown its library to include more than 100 billion compounds, creating a product engine that can nimbly spotlight new small-molecule therapies.

Now, in closing the deal, PPD is affirming its faith in that business model, CEO David Simmons said.

"X-Chem has demonstrated the value of its technology through establishment of an increasing number of relationships with major pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, along with academic centers," Simmons said. "Through these relationships, X-Chem has emerged as one of the top small-molecule drug discovery companies in the biotechnology industry."

Among those collaborators are Roche ($RHHBY), AstraZeneca ($AZN), Pfizer ($PFE) and Bayer, all of whom have dialed X-Chem's number for informatics-aided discovery services.

PPD's deal will hardly change day-to-day business at its in-house biotech, the company said, as X-Chem will retain its entire staff, including founder and CEO Richard Wagner.

The CRO didn't disclose how much it paid for either its initial stake or the whole company.

- read the statement

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