Charles River bids $380m to buy cell therapy services firm HemaCare

HemaCare will boost Charles River Laboratories’ offering in the cell therapy materials and leukapheresis space – a market predicted to grow to $2 billion in the next decade.

The deal will add expand Charles River’s cell therapy offering. HemaCare provides human primary cells as well as services used in the discovery, development and commercial production of cell therapies.

Leukapheresis – the separation of white cells from blood samples – is a core HemaCare offering.

Image: iStock/Rick_Jo

The firm provides leukapheresis services for materials used in the manufacture of Novartis’ Kymriah (tisagenlecleucel), Kite’s Yescarta (axicabtagene ciloleucel) and Dendreon’s Provenge (sipuleucel-T).

The acquisition is expected to complete in the first quarter of 2020.

High growth market

Charles River CEO James C. Foster described cell therapy as a high growth market, citing the number of products in early phase development.

“Cell and gene therapies are important new modalities, with an estimated 10 to 20 new product approvals per year within five years.

“In order to continue to enhance our ability to support our clients’ research efforts, particularly in biologics discovery and development, we are expanding our scientific capabilities” he said.

News of the acquisition comes months after Charles River and HemaCare established a distribution partnership for human derived biological materials to the Chinese market.

Revenue driver

Charles River – which generates $100 million (€90 million) a year from cell therapy development services – predicted the market for HemaCare products will increase from $200 million to $2 billion over the next decade.

Charles River said the acquisition would add at least $50 million to its 2020 consolidated revenue, and forecast HemaCare would be an important growth driver going forward.

“HemaCare is expected to immediately drive profitable revenue growth, with estimated revenue growth of at least 30% annually over the next five years.”

Discovery services

The acquisition is in keeping with other Charles River deals according to Evercore ISI, which covered the deal in a note this week.

“CRL has always moved quickly into new discovery areas, and this acquisition highlights management’s continued strategy of allowing an industry to develop and then picking off the top player before the entity reaches critical mass.”

Evercore said HemaCare would put “CRL in the driver’s seat as one of the few outsourced discovery partners that can deliver their services at scale.”

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