Charles River signs a trio of deals in drug discovery

Preclinical CRO Charles River Laboratories ($CRL) brought in three new discovery contracts with outfits funded by the Wellcome Trust, lending its expertise in early-stage drug development.

The Massachusetts company inked a new deal with Antabio focused on therapies for infections related to cystic fibrosis, recruited the British Columbia Cancer Agency for work on computer-aided drug design and other services related to radiotherapy, and extended its relationship with Pcovery to develop antifungal treatments.

Each partner is funded by Wellcome's Seeding Drug Discovery program, which bankrolls innovative, early-stage therapeutic research. Charles River is on board to provide pharmacology, drug metabolism and pharmacokinetics, and medicinal chemistry services in each pairing.

Charles River has been working to expand its share of the nonclinical research market, buying four companies over the past year to stretch out its service platform. In July, Charles River traded $212 million for Celsis, a company focused on quality-control testing. Last year, the CRO paid $179 million for Argenta and BioFocus, two discovery-focused service providers formerly owned by Galapagos. And in the fall, the company shelled out $52 million for ChanTest, an Ohio outfit that specializes in ion channel testing for early-stage drug development.

Last quarter, Charles River cleared $339.6 million in revenue, a 0.5% decrease compared with the same period last year at actual exchange rates. Accounting for the relative strength of the dollar, sales grew 5.7%, Charles River said. The company is forecasting full-year growth of between 3% and 4.5% for the year, amounting to about $1.3 billion.

- read the statement

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