Aptuit pairs up with an Italian CRO for drug discovery

U.S. contractor Aptuit has signed a deal with Italy's Axxam to team up on early-stage R&D services, pooling their resources to better compete for projects.

Under the agreement, the two will collaborate on drug discovery, offering a continuum of services from the earliest phases of development through preclinical testing. Axxam, a specialist in target biology and candidate screening, will link its efforts to Aptuit's downstream services, focused on nomination and IND filing.

"The complementary and comprehensive skillsets of our two companies include all the scientific disciplines necessary to translate a promising target into a preclinical candidate," Axxam CEO Stefan Lohmer said in a statement. "This alliance responds to the increasing demands from the market for high quality fully integrated drug discovery services."

And the pair have already inked their first joint partnership, kicking off what the companies called a "significant" project with an unnamed pharma sponsor.

For Aptuit, the expanded focus on drug discovery comes amid an ongoing makeover, with the company doubling down on drug R&D and moving away from other pharma services. In January, Aptuit sold off a pair of manufacturing sites to AMRI ($AMRI) for $60 million, and in 2013 the company shipped its packaging business to Catalent ($CTLT) for $410 million.

The CRO now makes its money offering early- and mid-stage clinical trial services, maintaining operations in the U.S., U.K. and Italy.

- read the statement