Covance is creating an OkCupid for molecules

As last week's BIO conference well illustrated, biotech companies go to great lengths to flaunt their assets in front of potential partners from Big Pharma. Global CRO Covance ($CVD) is developing a system it believes can make that process more efficient: an online platform that allows drug developers to securely list their up-for-license molecules for would-be collaborators.

Called Covance MarketPlace, the platform is designed as a sort of matchmaking service for drug candidates. The CRO is currently working with its client base of more than 500 biotechs to flesh out the system's ranks with early-stage molecules, including in each profile the relevant data, trial design and regulatory pathway for each. Once the site is up and running, "select" Covance pharma clients will be able to crawl it for promising assets, at once taking risk out of the process and helping the CRO's biotech clients get their work in front of the right eyes, the company said.

The success of MarketPlace hinges on the company's reputation, as the data on display stem from Covance-run development efforts, and the CRO says it's among very few outfits in the industry that can offer such a relationship-brokering service.

"With expertise from pre-clinical through market commercialization, Covance can proactively guide our clients in the design of programs that link robust preclinical strategies to optimized clinical plans to improved product labels," Covance Vice President Steve Street said in a statement. "This scientific, medical and regulatory continuity combined with our unique understanding of the challenges faced by emerging biotechnology companies affords us tremendous insights that we use to streamline a molecule's development."

Covance is marketing the program to emerging biotechs, promising to at once speed their way through development and get their work in front of the right eyes, increasing "the likelihood of a novel medicine advancing into the clinic and, ultimately, to patients," Street said.

Last quarter, the Princeton, NJ, company increased its net revenue by 7% to $620 million, falling short of Q4's $623 million, which Covance expected to beat. Late-stage development led the way on the quarter, growing 8% to $402 million, while early development ticked up 5% to $218 million. The CRO boosted its net income by about 6% to $50.8 million.

- read the release

Suggested Articles

The platform uses wearables to continuously collect clinical data from study participants and applies machine learning to analyze the data.

St. Jude, Microsoft and DNAnexus have created a data-sharing and analysis platform to help accelerate pediatric cancer research.

Charles River partners with PathoQuest to offer clients NGS solutions for biologics viral contamination testing and cell-line genetic characterization.