Pharmaron, the US-based contract research organisation with a particular interest in the fast-evolving Chinese market, has raised more than US$40 million in a Series C financing.

The financing round involved existing investors DCM, Legend Capital and others, as well as new contributor GL Capital Group. Pharmaron said it would use the capital raised to strengthen and expand its drug discovery services offerings, preclinical Good Laboratory Practice (GLP) toxicology capabilities and Good Manufacturing Practice-standard chemical synthesis services.

In recent years the company has ramped up substantially its capabilities and capacity for integrated drug discovery and development services, Pharmaron noted.

It successfully integrated toxicology expertise compliant with US Food and Drug Administration GLP regulations in 2010 and “became the first CRO in China to provide truly integrated drug discovery and development services from discovery to IND [[investigation new drug applications]”.

The injection of funds comes at a time when pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies are building long-term partnerships with CROs in response to growing productivity demands, pointed out Pharmaron chairman and chief executive officer Dr Boliang Lou.

According to a report last year by Frost & Sullivan, the worldwide market for CRO services is forecast to reach US$27 billion in 2011, showing compound annual growth of 15%.

In January 2010, Pharmaron consolidated its presence in China by acquiring preclinical specialist Bridge Laboratories China for an undisclosed sum. As Pharmaron noted at the time, Bridge Laboratories was the first CRO in China to offer preclinical toxicology services up to western-level GLP standard.