Serving up ‘plate-to-patient’ fare

Quotient Bioresearch and KWS BioTest partner on end-to-end anti-infectives screening

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CAMBRIDGE & BRISTOL, U.K.—Unveiling their new partnership at the 21st European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases 2011 (ECCMID 2011) in Milan, Italy, drug development service providers Quotient Bioresearch Ltd. and KWS BioTest Ltd. have announced that they are teaming up to provide "a novel coordinated approach to support the discovery and development of new antimicrobial agents."

"With KWS, we can provide a unique and fully-integrated 'plate-to-patient' offering for our anti-infective clients, by now including antivirals and models of human disease," says Dr. Ian Morrissey, director of anti-infectives at Quotient, speaking about the strategic partnership. He notes the partnership will enable the two companies to provide high-quality screening of anti-infectives all the way from in-vitro activity assays, efficacy and resistance profiling through validated models of human disease to surveillance and clinical investigations, with full scientific support.

The companies have a relationship going back to 2004, when KWS had a marketing and sales agreement with a company called BioDynamics, which ultimately became part of the Quotient group. This current partnership between Quotient and KWS represents significant expansion in the industry for both companies, they noted in a news release about the deal, adding that they share a number of joint customers and "the synergy created through this collaboration will enable both companies to carry out larger integrated studies with associated added value and efficiencies for their clients."

Or, as Morrissey tells ddn, "Both companies are focused on providing the industry with high-quality, scientifically rigorous approaches to drug discovery and development. Working together enables us to offer a seamless service across the entire process, and therefore this is a great opportunity for us both."

As for why this is the right time to forge a deal like this, Prof. Neil Williams, director of science at KWS BioTest, says it's partly because after a number of years of lower-than-average sector growth, the anti-infectives market has been growing rapidly.

"This is probably fueled by successes in vaccines, the use of novel approaches to treating infectious disease as well as the continuing need to develop next-generation antimicrobials," he notes. "Both companies have benefited from this; for KWS, infection now represents approximately half of its sales. Quotient has a very strong offering in early- and late-stage discovery in this area, and the strength of KWS fits in the gap between the two. Given the real hunger within the pharma and biotech industries to outsource to highly skilled CROs capable of adding real value to their programs, the partnership seems obvious."

Both Williams and Morrissey say that while the offerings of both companies complement each other and thus will provide customers with immediate benefits—such as a broader range of services to access via a team that is used to working together—it goes farther than that. They note that it is also clear there are areas where pooling their expertise will help them develop completely new aspects and service possibilities through a joint offering. The two teams have started to explore such areas and news about developments will be forthcoming, they say.

Also in May, KWS BioTest announced that it was also entering into a co-marketing agreement with Porsolt SAS to promote a common catalogue of preclinical tests in the area of inflammation and immunology. The partnership will reportedly enable Porsolt and KWS to deliver a complete cascade of tests to evaluate drug candidates, from simple screening assays to more complex models with high translational value.

"The combination of Porsolt's expertise in functional readouts with KWS's expertise in bioanalysis will bring a tremendous added-value to the models we are offering to our customers," said Dr. Martine Lemaire, senior director of commercial and business development of Porsolt, in the news release about the deal.

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