WILMINGTON, Mass.—In a move that is expected to establish the company as a key provider of contract research services for central nervous system (CNS) diseases, Charles River Laboratories International Inc. has acquired Brains On-Line, a contract research organization (CRO) that supplies critical data to help customers advance novel CNS therapeutics. According to Charles River, the transaction includes an initial purchase price of approximately €18 million (roughly $21 million) in cash, subject to certain post-closing adjustments, with the potential for additional payments of up to €6.7 million (about $8 million) based on future performance.
Brains On-Line has facilities in San Francisco, Germany, the Netherlands and Japan. The company offers microdialysis for CNS research, with its main specialization being in-vivo efficacy, pharmacology and pharmacokinetics testing for drugs in the brain. Brains On-Line also provides bioanalysis, behavior, electrophysiology and EEG services. The types of studies the CRO covers includes drug-drug interactions, proof of principle/proof of concept, dose ranging/dose effectiveness and drug metabolism, among others.
“The addition of Brains On-Line strategically expands Charles River’s existing CNS capabilities and establishes Charles River as the premier single-source provider for a broad portfolio of discovery CNS services,” commented James C. Foster, chairman, president and CEO of Charles River. “In addition to enhancing our ability to support clients’ early-stage drug research in this critical therapeutic area, Brains On-Line expands our geographic footprint. This increases the opportunity for clients to work side-by-side with Charles River’s scientists, both in Europe and in the South San Francisco research hub.”
Charles River also expanded its oncology discovery business this year, having announced in May that it had updated the business, including additions to its online Tumor Model Compendium, which offers a resource for identifying and locating targeted, suitable patient-derived xenografts (PDXs) based on specific histology and molecular properties. The portfolio features more than 450 fully characterized PDXs, covering all major tumor histotypes, and this recent update includes additions such as whole-exome mutations determined by next-generation sequencing, gene copy number variations determined with the Affymetrix Genome-Wide Human SNP Array 6.0 and gene expression determined with the Affymetrix Human Genome U133 Plus 2.0 Array. Charles River partnered with OcellO to expand their PDX capabilities, with OcellO running human tumor material from Charles River PDX models through its 3D cell culture drug screening platform.
“The use of a human tumor graft in a humanized model represents the future of immuno-oncology research,” Birgit Girshick, corporate senior vice president of Global Discovery at Charles River, said in a press release at the time. “A model that more closely mirrors human immune systems allows researchers to conduct groundbreaking studies more efficiently and effectively, with the goal of developing more translational therapies. Utilizing the Tumor Model Compendium, oncology researchers can identify the exact tumor model and target for their research, getting them that much closer to that goal.”
Brains On-Line has seen some growth of its own in the past year. In March 2016, Brains On-Line shared news that it had expanded its services to include “behavioral assays covering the key behavioral domains related to cognition, schizophrenia, anxiety/depression, Parkinson's disease and phenotypic behavioral studies.” In May 2016, the company announced the acquisition of Encepharm, which it said “enables Brains On-Line to offer innovative, translational solutions from early discovery through to late-stage development in non-human primates.”