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BOSTON—Invicro LLC, a provider of imaging services and software for research and drug development, announced in early September the acquisition of U.K.-based Imanova, which specializes in the application of PET and MR imaging and focuses on translational research to support the transition from preclinical studies to Phase 1/2 studies in humans.
The services of the combined business covers the entire translational spectrum, ranging from novel biomarker evaluation and development in early discovery to late-phase clinical trials support. Invicro and Imanova will “merge all activities to establish the world’s largest provider of translational imaging services and analytics from preclinical development through to late-phase clinical trials,” the companies said.
According to Dr. Jack Hoppin, co-founder and CEO of Invicro, “The companies have matured to the point that both were seeking to expand their respective geographic footprints across the Atlantic Ocean. Additionally, both companies share an opinion that the global demand for imaging biomarker development in pharmaceutical research is at an inflection point—combining efforts should accelerate growth of services across the entire market.”
Kevin Cox, CEO at Imanova, commented that, “Imanova has made good progress in developing the business since formation in 2011 but reached the point where further investment would be required to continue growth. We investigated a number of options to secure funding, but it quickly became clear in discussions with Invicro that an acquisition would make the most sense and create a world-leading imaging and informatics company for the benefit of all parties.”
“The business combination provides world-class talent that can solve complicated research questions and provide decision-making data that would otherwise be unattainable,” Hoppin added. In more specific terms, he said that Imanova’s advanced pharmacokinetic analysis platform and C11 imaging services are very complimentary to Invicro’s. Additionally, Invicro seeks to grow its Phase 2 and 3 imaging core lab services in Europe, and the Imanova team is a perfect launching point for this effort. Hoppin also believes that Imanova brings with it an “extremely intelligent and innovative research team to scale a growing offering.”
By bringing together Imanova and Invicro, “the industry will have access to the most comprehensive set of imaging services across the full spectrum of drug development,” Hoppin said. The combined offering will encompass software, imaging platforms (MRI, PET, SPECT, etc.), biomarker development and manufacturing, expertise, analysis and insights.
The two companies will merge all activities to become one global organization expanding the development, evaluation and translation of quantitative biomarkers, and building a significant global presence in late-phase trials, according to Hoppin. The combination “brings together world-leading expertise in drug development research, from preclinical study design and techniques, through quantitative biomarker development to cutting-edge clinical study design and analysis techniques,” he added.
In Cox’s opinion, Imanova’s skills will build in Invicro’s translational drug development and biomarker expertise and provide access to a wide academic and commercial network, expanding Invicro’s capacity and global footprint. Over the next three years, Invicro will invest in Imanova’s operations in the United Kingdom in order to expand novel imaging biomarker R&D and manufacturing, expand preclinical sciences, strengthen MRI capabilities and, in the near term, provide enhanced core lab and multisite management services, based on “world-leading informatics.”
He also noted that the clinical trial imaging market is large, and it is expected to grow from $725 million in 2015 to $982 million in 2020, with a compound annual growth rate of over 6 percent. In addition to providing critical information for drug developers, regulators are increasing their focus on the knowledge that biological imaging can provide on drug safety and efficacy.
“Using state-of-the-art technology and skills, a radioisotope can be attached to either a drug candidate or a specifically designed tool compound,” Cox explained. “Researchers can use this approach to capture images and generate quantitative data detailing the distribution and target engagement of their drug and, by combining modalities, provide information on possible functional modification of biological pathways. Such information in humans provides invaluable information on whether or not to progress a drug candidate to later clinical trials, thereby reducing risk and improving R&D productivity.”
Hoppin summarized, “The development of novel quantitative biomarkers positions biomedical imaging at the forefront of drug development, providing previously unattainable data on disease systems and drug pathways. Combining world-leading biomarker development with superior data management and analytics capabilities, Invicro is at the forefront of harnessing this technology to deliver enhanced drug research today and to aid in the development of tomorrow’s precision medicines.”