The New Year began with a series of expansions.
Irvine, California-based drug and supplement maker ChromaDex announced that it will open a new research and development facility in Boulder, Colorado, this month, after spending $1 million to upgrade a 10,000-square-foot leased space. The company will use the space to grow its analytics offerings.
In addition, Crown Bioscience of Santa Clara, California, has announced it is investing $1 million in a new research and development center focused on cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. It will be located within the University of Louisiana’s New Iberia Research Center in Lafayette, Louisiana.
Though these deals are small, together they are a result of greater health in the markets, said Neal McCarthy, managing director of Fairmount Partners, which focuses heavily on the life sciences.
“The markets are strong and there’s been a good amount of money available for drug development, and biotech in particular,” he said. “When biotechs get funding, they’ll spend the money right away on research and development. We’re seeing a lot of that right now; it’s driving the ability of companies like Crown to put more money and attention into developing capabilities and capacity.”
Orphan drugs, in particular, are getting the attention of biotech companies like Crown, which focuses on biologics for orphan drugs.
“The biotechs are able to custom build biologics to serve these very detailed but smaller needs,” McCarthy said. “There isn’t blockbuster money to be made there, but there is money to be made, and the markets are paying attention to that.”
According to BioWorld, venture spending in the U.S. private biopharmaceutical space was down in 2016 when compared with 2015. Venture firms invested $7.63 billion in biopharma in 2015 and just $5.39 billion last year. That’s still better than 2014, during which private companies in the space only saw $3.85 billion in investments.
In better news, according to BioWorld, series A financing, which includes seed rounds, dropped only slightly from 95 investments in 2015 to 85 investments in 2016.
Dementia—which Eisai and Keio University will be focusing on in their expansion—has been a key area of attention in recent years and will continue to be, said McCarthy.
Under the new joint research agreement, Eisai and Keio University will establish the Eisai-Keio Innovation Lab for Dementia as a base for industry-academia collaboration “that will hopefully spur new innovation in the treatment of dementia,” said the company. The lab, an integrated research site for clinical medicine and basic medicine, will be staffed by researchers from both organizations. Eisai, which produces small and mid-sized compounds derived from natural products and antibodies, has been active in the field of dementia for three decades.
Said Eisai, the Innovation Lab will perform three functions: clinical omics analysis, using mass spectroscopy technology; data science, using artificial intelligence to come up with new drug targets; and biological validation, which makes use of human iPS cell technology to advance the study of drug target biology.
As for Crown Bioscience, its expansion will create 10 new jobs with an average annual wage of $70,000 as part of its expansion. In addition, Louisiana Economic Development said it projects that the center will result in 14 new indirect jobs in the area. Crown said the expansion will allow it to grow beyond its operational capacities that exist in North Carolina.
ChromaDex—which develops ingredients for dietary supplement, food and beverage, skin care, sports nutrition and pharmaceutical products—said it will use its new facility for the development process for the company’s in-house ingredients.
These are only a small sample size of the research and development kicking off 2017. While 2016 may have felt a slight dip in investments when compared to 2015, 2017 is off to a strong start.
This article was reprinted from Volume 21, Issue 01, of CWWeekly, a leading clinical research industry newsletter providing expanded analysis on breaking news, study leads, trial results and more. Subscribe »