Biotech CROs Take Center Stage in Recent Deals

by: The Burrill Report

By Marie Daghlian

Global contract research services firm Charles River Laboratories (NYSE:CRL) is expanding its presence in China with the acquisition of WuXi PharmaTech (NYSE:WX), a major drug research and development outsourcing company with expertise in discovery chemistry and operations in both China and the United States. The $1.6 billion cash and stock deal will expand the global reach and growth opportunities for both companies.

“This transaction revolutionizes the contract research landscape by creating the only global contract research organization, or CRO, to offer fully integrated research and drug development services from molecule creation to first-in-human testing,” said James C. Foster, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Charles River [see story].

Diagnostic company Oxford Immunotec closed the second tranche of a $26 Million series D Financing led by New Leaf Venture Partners with participation by new investor Kaiser Permanente Ventures and existing investors Clarus Ventures, Wellington Partners, Kuwait-based National Technology Enterprises Company, SPARK Ventures, DFJ Esprit, Oxford University and The Dow Chemical Company.

Oxford makes T cell-based diagnostic tests. Its lead product is a test designed to diagnose both latent tuberculosis infection and active disease by measuring T cells that have been activated specifically by Mycobacterium tuberculosis antigens. The World Health Organization estimates that more than one-third of the world’s population currently is infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis. In the U.S., there are an estimated 15 million individuals infected with latent TB, and an estimated 17 million tests for latent TB are performed each year.

Madison, Wisconsin-based Cellular Dynamics International, the world's largest volume manufacturer of human heart cells, closed a $40.6 million series B private equity round led by Tactics II Stem Cell Ventures, and included investments from Sam Zell's Equity Group Investments and Sixth Floor Investors.

The financing will enable the company to increase production capacity for its human heart cells derived from induced pluripotent stem cells and to launch additional human tissue cell products for biomedical and pharmaceutical drug development and safety research. CDI also plans to use the proceeds to rapidly expand its commercial organization to meet the growing demand for iPSC-based products. CDI has raised a total of $70 million since 2004.

Synthetic biology firm Joule Biotechnologies raised $30 million in series B funding led by Flagship Ventures, Joule’s founding venture capital investor. The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company is developing a technology to convert carbon dioxide into ethanol with its engineered “magic bug.”

The proceeds will help to accelerate Joule’s advancements in a number of areas, including its pilot operations now underway in Leander, Texas, where the production process for its renewable solar fuels, including fungible diesel, will be tested. The funds will also support key developments in genome engineering, bioprocessing and hardware engineering to optimize productivity and generate product samples in quantities that will fully validate Joule’s process beyond the lab.

Finally, Bill Gates invested $10 million in Schrodinger, a Portland, Oregon-based drug development software firm through his wholly owned Cascade Investment.
Founded in 1990, Schrödinger does chemical simulation for pharmaceutical and biotechnology research. Schrödinger's software has been used by nearly every major pharmaceutical firm worldwide as well as hundreds of smaller firms and academic and government research laboratories. More recently, Schrödinger has entered into a number of collaborations in which its technology and expertise could have a significant impact on early-stage drug discovery projects.

Cascade's investment is intended to enable Schrödinger to pursue a number of research and development projects with the aim of making considerable improvements in the state of the art in computer-aided drug design.


Global Venture Financings
Company Location Amount Raised ($M)
Principal Focus
EdeniQ Visalia, CA 12.4 Crop traits
Bicycle Therapeutics Cambridge, UK n/a Technology platform
Implanet Bordeaux, France 11.0 Medical devices
Realton Beijing, China n/a Medical devices
Oxford Immunotec New York, NY 26.0 Diagnostics
Integrated DNA Technologies Coralville, IA 12.0 Nucleic acids
Mirina Seattle, WA n/a microRNA
Cellular Dynamics Int'l Madison, WI 40.6 Heart stem cells
Joule Biotechnologies Cambridge, MA 30.0 Renewable fuels
Lycera Ann Arbor, MI 11.0 Autoimmune
Affimed Therapeutics Heidelberg, Germany 26.6 Antibodies
Schrodinger Portland, OR 10.0 Drug development software
Grants and Contracts
Funding/Contracting Agency
Amount ($M)
Principal Focus
Evotec (Germany) German Federal Ministry of Education and Research 2.0 Neurology
Living Cell Technologies (Australia) Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation 0.5 Diabetes
Amarantus Therapeutics Michael J Fox Foundation n/a Parkinson's
Selenium NIH NIDCR 0.9 Dental
iPerian CIRM 1.5 Gene/cell therapy
Ginkgo bioWorks US DOE 6.0 Renewable fuels
OPX Biotechnologies US DOE ARPA-E 6.0 Renewable fuels
Cleveland Biolabs BARDA 2.0 Radiation side effects
Battelle US Army 7.9 Decontamination
AVI BioPharma US DTRA 4.0 Infectious
Total Grants and Contracts 30.8
Raised $M

Financing Type
Affitech (Denmark) CSE:AFFI 28.3 PIPE
BioDelivery Sciences Int'l BDSI 10.0 PIPE
Corcept Therapeutics CORT 0.5 PIPE
AspenBio Pharma APPY 10.0 PIPE--RDO
Pluristem Therapeutics (Israel) PSTI 2.7 PIPE
Critical Outcome Technologies TSX-V:COT 1.1 PIPE
Winner Medical Group (China) WWIN 8.4 Follow-on
Idenix Pharmaceuticals IDIX 26.2 Follow-on
Radient Pharmaceuticals RPC 0.7 Debt
PuriCore (United Kingdom) LSE:PURI 1.8 Debt
Corcept Therapeutics CORT 7.1 Warrant exercise
NeurogesX NGSX 40.0 Royalty financing agreement
Natus Medical BABY 50.0 Credit facility
Pressure BioSciences PBIO 1.2 Warrant exercise
Neovasc (Canada) TSX-V:NVC 1.4 Warrant exercise
Ex-US 35.3
Deal Value
in $M

Charles River Laboratories WuXi PharmaTech (China) 1600.0 CRO
ExonHit Therapeutics (France) RedPath Integrated Pathology 32.0 Diagnostics
Mesa Laboratories SGM Biotech 12.0 Supply/service
Welch Allyn Trimline Medical Products n/a Supply/service
Medtronic ATS Medical 370.0 Medical devices
eResearchTechnology CareFusion research services 81.0 CRO
Valeant Pharmaceuticals Vital Science (Canada) 10.5 OTC dermatology drugs
Gold Medal UK (United Kingdom) Fulcrum Pharma (UK) 17.7 Pharmaceuticals
Company/Licensee Company/Licenser Deal Value
in $M
Bioprocess Capital Ventures (Russia) Cleveland Biolabs 5.7 Cancer Joint Venture
Medicines for Malaria Venture (Switzerland) Anacor Pharmaceuticals n/a Malaria Therapeutics Collaboration
Merck Nycomed (Switzerland) n/a Respiratory Drug Co-promotion
CHDI Foundation BioFocus (Galapagos-Belgium) 41.0 Huntington's disease Collaboration
GlaxoSmithKline (United Kingdom) EyeGate Pharma n/a Opthalmic Collaboration
Japan's National Cancer Reseach Center IRX Therapeutics n/a Cancer Vaccine Collaboration
Labopharm (Canada) Gruppo Angelini (Italy) 92.0 Neurology Joint Venture
Celtic Therapeutics BELLUS Health (Canada) 30.0 Amyloidosis Treatment License
Kissei Pharmaceutical (Japan) Protox Therapeutics 75.0 Prostate Treatment License
Inverness Medical Innovations BG Medicine n/a Diagnostic Collaboration

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