Triangle-based BioAgilytix Acquires Cambridge CRO, Plans Hiring, More Acquisitions

BioAgilytix logo

BioAgilytix, a Durham-based provider of large-molecule bioanalytical testing services, has acquired Cambridge Biomedical, a contract research organization based in the Boston suburb of Cambridge. Financial details were not disclosed.

The transaction expands BioAgilytix’s global footprint into the Boston area which, like the Research Triangle, is a major U.S. life science center. Cambridge Biomedical, which will be renamed BioAgilytix, also specializes in large-molecule bioanalysis.

The company said it also adds further capacity by joining Cambridge Biomedical’s CLIA-certified, CAP-accredited, and GLP-compliant facility with BioAgilytix’s GxP laboratories in Durham and Hamburg, Germany. 

The Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) of 1988 from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services requires all entities that perform tests on material from the human body to meet federal requirements. CAP refers to accreditation by the College of American Pathologists. It is an internationally recognized program designed to help clinical labs achieve excellence beyond that required for regulatory compliance. 

GLP, an acronym for good laboratory practice, is a quality system concerned with the organizing process and conditions under which non-clinical health and environmental safety studies are planned, performed, monitored, recorded, archived and reported. GxP is an abbreviation for "good practice" quality guidelines and regulations.

Merger expands BioAgilytix’s team

The merger with Cambridge grows BioAgilytix’s team to more than 400 employees worldwide, further enhancing BioAgilytix’s world-class expertise in biomarkers, immunogenicity, cell-based assays, and pharmacokinetics to support all phases of biologics development. 

Jim Datin
CEO Jim Datin

Cambridge Biomedical has a molecular suite equipped with the latest generation of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) platforms, which will be immediately available to BioAgilytix’s customers. PCR platforms detect and amplify DNA sequences.

“Our companies have many synergies, both exclusively focused in large molecules and today supporting development of some of the most innovative and complex biologics, including cell and gene therapeutics,” said Jim Datin, president and CEO of BioAgilytix, in an interview with the North Carolina Biotechnology Center. “Together we will be able to offer the same premier scientific solutions and quality results, but on a larger scale.”

Datin said Cambridge Biomedical has an interesting back story. It was founded in 1997 by David Osband, who was diagnosed with cancer and wanted to find diagnostics or drugs to fight the disease. He lost his battle with cancer, but his wife, a kindergarten teacher with four children, took over as CEO and “built it to world-class expertise in PCR,” said Datin. 

One of the Triangle’s fastest-growing companies

BioAgilytix is one of the Triangle’s fastest-growing companies. It has won a Triangle Business Journal Fast 50 award for seven straight years, and has also won awards for diversity. 

BioAgilytix headquarters in Durham. -- BioAgilytix photos
BioAgilytix headquarters in Durham. -- BioAgilytix photos

It was acquired by two private equity firms in 2018, Cobepa, a $3 billion Euro fund out of Belgium, and GHO Capital, a London-based fund founded by former Quintiles founder and chair Dennis Gillings. 

BioAgilytix expanded its U.S. headquarters in Durham by more than 21,000 square feet in July. In 2018. Datin said it plans on adding people and equipment to its Cambridge operations, “making a great company even better.”

BioAgilytix supported eight of the 18 large-molecule drugs that were approved by the FDA in 2018 and is currently working on more than 700 projects, including one pharma partner with a drug candidate Datin says has a $10 billion potential. Others include biosimilars, which can help reduce healthcare costs and improve access to drugs, Datin notes. 

More acquisitions to come

This Cambridge acquisition is just one of many to come, Datin said. It will look for companies that expand its services or its geographical reach and expects to announce other acquisitions next year.

Datin said the company hired about 100 people last year and expects to hire 90-plus this year and next. It has about 275 people in North Carolina currently. Datin is one of the many life science leaders in North Carolina who have worked at one or more of the companies that has evolved into what is now GlaxoSmithKline. “Our first employees came out of Glaxo and we still hire them,” he noted.

In a state that is the birthplace and still a global leader in the CRO space, BioAgilytix has a 93% retention rate in an industry with a usual 15 to 20% turnover, Datin said.

“We’re proud to have our U.S. headquarters located in RTP and to have been a part of the Triangle’s growth for more than 10 years,” said Datin. “It’s easy to recruit people to the RTP.” He cited its many advantages, from low cost of living to high quality of life, and good weather among others.

“Its reputation as an innovation hub has been key in our recruitment efforts, giving us a great talent pool to source from as well as the ability to attract individuals outside of our region to join this vibrant scientific community.”

Allan Maurer, NCBiotech Writer
Tue, 11/05/2019 - 15:12