CROs create COVID partnership

U.K companies seek to provide drug discovery and development services despite pandemic restrictions

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NOTTINGHAM, U.K.—The novel coronavirus pandemic has severely impacted business across the spectrum, forcing a rapid adaptation of business models and a need for creative solutions to the challenges presented by the virus. Four contract research organizations (CROs) all housed in BioCity Nottingham have joined forces to help maintain the ability to provide drug discovery and development of new therapeutics through the global shutdown.
Charnwood Molecular, Reach Separations, Aurelia Bioscience and XenoGesis had existing relationships thanks to their shared location at BioCity Nottingham, the UK’s largest bioscience, innovation and incubation center. They chose to strengthen those existing links to find a model for safe working conditions, adhering to social distancing guidelines related to COVID-19 and other “scientifically proven behavior” that allows them to remain open throughout the pandemic and continue to provide their services to customers around the world.
Their collaboration merges their respective expertise in synthetic and medicinal chemistry, analytical and purification support, bioassays, pharmacology screening, drug metabolism and pharmacokinetics (DMPK), bioanalysis, pharmacokinetic modeling and dose prediction—providing a coordinated, “one-stop shopping” utility.
XenoGesis specializes in preclinical DMPK, quantitative bioanalysis, pharmacology and expert interpretation. The company reviews clients' proposed candidates, offering data-driven feedback from bioanalytical analysis.
Dr. Richard Weaver, CEO and founder of XenoGesis, explains the appeal of the collaboration: “Clients can feel confident that they are still able to access the best specialized CRO in its respective discipline, and also dip into the services that they need at different stages of their project. In the past few weeks, we have seen a marked increase in new work and projects, with clients coming to us for our specialist DMPK expertise. There is a genuine appetite for access to niche CROs that are leaders in their field. All four companies already work together on numerous projects and have found our close proximity and co-location to be a huge advantage in working effectively to keep projects going, as samples could be easily moved from one CRO to another.”
Charnwood Molecular offers medicinal and process chemistry research services to worldwide clients in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and chemical industries.
Says Robin Wilkes, Charnwood’s director of business development: “In these unprecedented times, the need for new therapeutics is higher than ever. Being co-located at BioCity Nottingham has huge advantages and enables us to navigate some of the barriers that are affecting other businesses, ensuring our clients’ projects can continue.”
Reach Separations also supports clients across the pharmaceutical industry, as well as those in agrochemical and fine chemical sectors, and specializes in chiral separation, dissecting samples and results to facilitate their discovery programs.
“We already have a proven track record of working together to provide services for clients across the globe,” noted Victoria Coulthard, head of business development at Reach Separations. “By coming together and offering a collaborative approach, we are able to build on this and help clients expedite their drug discovery projects in spite of the lockdown.”
Aurelia Bioscience offers preclinical discovery, designing and developing low-, medium- and high-throughput assays for hits-to-lead, lead identification and lead optimization drug discovery phases in both cellular and non-cellular assay formats. Its research areas include respiratory disease, inflammatory disease, oncology, central nervous system/pain, rare disorders and diabetes.
Concludes Gary Allenby, chief scientific officer at Aurelia Biosciences: “In the current climate, the co-localization of subject experts has come to the fore. Together at BioCity, Aurelia Bioscience, Charnwood Molecular, Reach Separations and XenoGesis have been able to provide seamless business continuity for drug discovery programs, combatting the disruption that is being experienced elsewhere in the sector.”
The collaboration is expected to continue throughout the duration of the pandemic and the resulting constraints on their partner businesses.

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