BioTox Sciences, a non-clinical contract research organisation (CRO) based in the US, is beefing up its drug discovery and preclinical testing capabilities by acquiring fellow San Diego CRO Bio-Quant from its owner Apricus Biosciences.

Under the acquisition agreement, Apricus will receive a minimum of US$5 million in upfront and future earn-out payments, with the potential for these to reach US$20 million over the next ten years based on BioTox’s currently projected revenues.

Apricus, a speciality biopharmaceutical company developing new and improved compounds based on its NexACT drug delivery technology in areas such as sexual dysfunction, oncology, infection, diabetes and autoimmune disorders, has retained all research conducted by Bio-Quant for another Apricus subsidiary, NexMed, as well as the profitable Bio-Quant diagnostic kit business.

Also San Diego-based, NexMed both runs a discovery/preclinical contract research business and pursues licensing and partnership opportunities for its proprietary NexACT technology and associated treatments for onychomycosis, psoriasis, sexual dysfunction and cancer.

Tighter focus

With the divestiture of Bio-Quant, Apricus Bio has decided to outsource its primary preclinical CRO work for NexMed and narrow its focus to commercialising late-stage products, such as Vitaros (alprostadil) cream for erectile dysfunction, and developing further its earlier-stage pipeline candidates.

“While our Bio-Quant subsidiary has been driving revenues over the past year, this divesture represents a key strategic decision for Apricus Bio, as licensing revenues from Vitaros have increased during the first half of 2011, and are currently projected to constitute the majority of our revenue stream for the remainder of 2011,” explained Dr Bassam Damaj, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Apricus Biosciences.

Non-GLP gain

Founded in 2001, Bio-Quant is described as one of San Diego’s most experienced CROs for non-GLP (good laboratory practices) contract drug discovery and pre-clinical development services, with a global client base and specialising in oncology, inflammation, immunology and metabolic diseases. 

BioTox, which was set up in 2007, has focused mainly on GLP studies and was looking to expand its operations both in San Diego and in non-GLP services, the company noted. With the acquisition of Bio-Quant, BioTox “can now scale its operation and reach to become a true national and global presence”, it stated.

The company aims to build on its existing IND (investigational new drug application) and NDA (new drug application)-enabling in vivo GLP toxicology offerings, which should make for a more attractive strategic outsourcing proposition “with proven economic and scientific depth”, BioTox noted.

The company can now take its clients’ compounds through the preclinical drug development process and draw on state-of-the-art capabilities by integrating Bio-Quant’s study execution software platform, Intranet, with BioTox’s GLP-compliant study data acquisition software, iAdavantage, it added.