MPM Capital, the San Francisco, US-based company that describes itself as the world’s largest venture capital investor dedicated solely to healthcare, has chosen a contract research organisation (CRO) for its first ever foray into India.

MPM is putting US$20 million into Sai Advantium Pharma, a chemistry-driven drug discovery and development services company with headquarters in Hyderabad. According to the US company, this is the first new capital investment in Sai Advantium and one of the biggest life sciences venture capital investments in India to date.

Managing director Dr William Greene, who is joining the Indian company’s board of directors, said Sai Advantium “stood out as a leader in one of the most exciting emerging areas for global biotech and pharma, namely the outsourcing of drug discovery and development support. We have been deeply impressed by the determination of the founders and senior management team to be the best in this critical space”.

Offering resources in medicinal chemistry, drug metabolism and pharmacokinetics (DMPK), process development, good manufacturing practice (GMP)-standard production and pharmaceutical development, Sai Advantium is already a leader in servicing small and mid-sized biotechnology companies, Greene noted.

The “capital improvements, decision and customer support tools and capacity expansions made possible by this investment should position Sai as the preferred partner for global pharma players of any size”, he added. Analysts are projecting that the global preclinical discovery and development outsourcing industry is set to reach US$20 billion by 2010, Greene pointed out.