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Biomarker expansion positions CRO for rapid growth; Edison

By Nick Taylor , 04-Apr-2012

Niche CRO Proteome Sciences is poised for triple-digit sales growth as its biomarker business takes off, an investment research firm said.

Proteome Sciences quickly expanded its portfolio of biomarker assays last year and now has panels for Alzheimer’s disease, breast cancer, and other diseases. This expansion is predicted to trigger two years of triple-digit growth that will make Proteome Sciences profitable by 2014.

We forecast that revenues will increase by 239 per cent in fiscal 2012…as Proteome Sciences benefits from the launch of 50 biomarkers in assays over the last year and increases its marketing activities”, Edison Investment Research wrote in a report initiating coverage of the UK-headquartered company.

As well as providing services to its own biopharma clients, Proteome Sciences has deals with other CROs (contract research organisations), notably Parexel and Icon. Despite the validation these deals bring Edison still thinks Proteome Sciences’ small size could deter bigger clients, at least initially.

Specialist proteomics CRO services have only evolved very recently and some large pharmaceutical companies may initially be cautious about outsourcing an important service to a small specialist company”, Edison wrote, adding that Proteome Sciences has “a relatively limited reputation”.

James Foster, CEO of Charles River Laboratories, made a related point in August when discussing the willingness of large pharmaceutical companies to outsource drug discovery work to emerging CROs.

Clients are finding very high quality, but very small companies to do this work for them but they’re very uncomfortable.[They’re unsure if the vendor’s] going to stay in business, or if they’ll have the sort of regulatory rigor and financial staying power that are essential to them”, Foster said.

Niche providers identified by clients are possible takeover targets as Charles River expands in drug discovery. At the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) this week Charles River partnered with a niche service provider, Metabolon, to add oncology biomarker and mechanism of action skills.

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