Former GSK staffers help Parexel expand genomics offering

By Ben Adams

Parexel's Sy Pretorius

CRO giant Parexel ($PRXL) has teamed up with recently axed GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) scientists to grow its business in genomic-based drug development.

The Massachusetts CRO is seeking to cash in on the current genomics craze from pharma and biotech, which are all looking to better understand the genetic basis of disease in order to create more effective--and thus more profitable--drug targets.

In 2015, around 20% of FDA approvals were for targeted therapies, and over the next 5 years the number of personalized medicines in development is expected to increase 69%, according to a recent Tufts report.

Parexel has expanded its offering by adding 15 new scientists to its Genomic Medicine team--all of whom come from GSK's Genetics and Computational Biology departments.

This group has found a lifeboat in Parexel after being cast off the shaky ship GSK, which is going through a series of restructurings after a turbulent three years of woeful financial results, billion-dollar fines and scandals across the world. The new team will be based at the CRO's site in Research Triangle Park, NC.

Sy Pretorius, chief scientific officer at Parexel, said: "Recently, the terms 'precision medicine' and 'personalized medicine' have become household terms, and genomic research is the key to developing targeted therapies. By applying innovative and state-of-the-art methodologies, we work with our clients to understand how genes impact an individual's response to treatment--and why people who receive the same treatment may respond differently.

"Parexel's Genomic Medicine team leverages genomic information across more than 10 therapeutic areas to help biopharmaceutical companies discover, develop, and secure regulatory and payer approval for their new medicines," Pretorius said.

This announcement comes after the company posted modest growth in the last quarter as it continues to make cuts in order to boost profits.

In 2014 Parexel announced that it would be bringing as many as 450 ex-GSK staff to the North Carolina site--although around a quarter of these positions are now under threat after the CRO announced last August that it would be axing as many as 125 of these workers. 

- read Parexel's release