Some of the Fios Genomics team at their Edinburgh BioQuarter offices (Picture credit: Robert Perry)

EDINBURGH-based bioinformatics company, Fios Genomics (“Fios”), which helps pharmaceutical and biotech companies to analyse the large amounts of data generated during drug development, has announced a strategic partnership with one of the world’s largest contract research organisations, Charles River Laboratories, (“Charles River”).

Through this partnership, Charles River clients worldwide will have access to Fios’s expertise in bioinformatics, statistics and biology to assist in the sourcing and analysis of the big data associated with drug development.

In what is seen as a gamechanger for the Edinburgh University spin-out, through Charles River’s global footprint, the partnership will open up a whole new client base for Fios, which currently works with more than 100 clients, principally in the US and Europe.

The biologically relevant insights revealed by the team at Fios Genomics, combined with Charles River’s streamlined integrated drug discovery and development platform and the scientific expertise of both organisations, will enable Charles River clients to make more data-driven decisions about their programmes, improving both confidence and speed.

Fios, an Edinburgh University spin-out formed in 2008, is located within Edinburgh’s BioQuarter.  Charles River has also made a strategic investment in Fios, which Fios plans to use to accelerate company growth and increase its headcount from its current 30 to 50, with the recruitment of further bioinformaticians, project managers and other support staff.

Dr Sarah Lynagh, Chief Executive Officer at Fios Genomics, said:

“This partnership takes Fios to the next level, opening up opportunities for the business right around the world. It is great news for Fios, for our expert team here in Edinburgh and for our very supportive investors.

“Our approach to bioinformatics at Fios Genomics is to look beyond algorithms and statistics and understand that biological relevance and statistical significance are not necessarily the same thing. Bioinformatics is about biology, outcome and pathways, and by partnering with Charles River, we can help more researchers make data-driven decisions about their programmes that are grounded in biological insights.

“At the end of the day, we’re in the business of helping patients and clinicians by improving the development of medicines and treatments, supporting the pharma industry to bring to market those that have been proven to work. This deal significantly improves our reach and our ability to do that.”

Birgit Girshick, Corporate Executive Vice President, Discovery & Safety Assessment, Biologics Testing Solutions and Avian Vaccine Services at Charles River, said:

“The explosion in omics data has been a boon for the drug discovery industry, but analysis and interpretation of these datasets are challenging. Through our partnership with Fios Genomics, Charles River clients will have greater access to the special combination of skills in bioinformatics, statistics and biology required to obtain meaningful information from their data.”

Fios’s investors include Edinburgh-based business angel investment syndicate, Archangels; Borders-based syndicate, TRICAPITAL; Scottish Investment Bank; and Edinburgh University.

Dr Sarah Hardy, Chief Investment Officer at lead investor, Archangels, said:

“This partnership with a world class organisation such as Charles River is clear evidence that Fios has developed an enviable level of expertise and the reputation to provide companies large and small, and research institutions, with valuable insights into big data and make a meaningful contribution towards bringing their medicines to market. We’re proud to have been able to support Fios since its genesis and we look forward to seeing the next stage in its development enabled by this partnership.” 

Kerry Sharp, Director, Scottish Investment Bank;

“This is a massive deal for Fios. One that opens up a world of opportunity for the company while providing Charles River with access to Fios’s unparalleled analytical skills in the field of bioinformatics. The partnership is testament to the vision and hard work of Dr Lynagh and her team, and we look forward to continuing our support for Fios through the next stage of its growth journey.”