According to the contract research organization (CRO), the initial investment will focus on increasing global capacity by expanding dedicated laboratory space, instrumentation, and scientific and operations teams. Last year, Covance more than doubled its I&I laboratory footprint and staff size.
The new I&I team collates the company’s capabilities in flow cytometry, immunoassays and cell-based assays with its scientific know-how in study design, direction, and operation.
“The strong scientific bench, increased lab capacity and state-of-the art technology of the new I&I group will lead to richer scientific insights and faster cycle times for clients’ biologic programs,” said Sue Maynard, a spokesperson for LabCorp, the parent organization of Covance Drug Development.
Additionally, because Covance provides services across the entire drug development spectrum, the I&I team will be able to provide vertical integration with bioanalysis and clinical development services as well as commercialization and central laboratory services, she told us.
The formation of the unit is in response to increasing demand for these services, Maynard said, adding: “While we don’t disclose specific growth rates for these services, biologics is a growing area of drug development, making up just over a third of biopharma’s R&D pipeline.”
Structurally more complex than traditional chemically synthesized drugs, Maynard explained biologics often require more individualized development plans than the toxicology processes for a small molecule.
“So, while Covance has always and will continue to support immunotoxicology endpoints for small molecules, we are building our new I&I group specifically to handle the innovative and complex approaches more typically required by biologics,” she said.