As innovations in drug discovery continue to abound, the relationship between pharmaceutical/ biotechnology industry and CROs (Contract Research Organisations) has strengthened significantly. However, choosing the right CRO for a project is not always straightforward. Cost, speed, disease area expertise, technical skills, etc are some of the factors that need to be considered when evaluating a CRO partner. In our blog below, we discuss the importance of a strong CRO-client relationship and highlight some of the key differentiators of small CROs.


CRO-client relationship:

Growing competition, coupled with high overheads and scarcity of time has resulted in an increased dependency on the CRO industry. CROs not only provide services in a timely, efficient and cost-effective manner, but also fill in skill gaps that sponsor organisations may have.

As trends in outsourcing are escalating rapidly, developing a functional and productive relationship between CROs and sponsors is of utmost importance. It is crucial that CROs work closely with their clients, provide analytical solutions to their problems, establish systems and procedures and respect the confidentiality of the agreement.

Some of the key attributes of a successful CRO are as follows:

  • Scientific knowledge and technical know-how
  • Delivery focussed
  • Experience working on diverse projects
  • Up to date with latest technological trends
  • Links with other life science companies
  • Demonstrated history of successful project delivery
  • Efficient method transfer
  • Good quality systems with necessary documentation
  • Secure storage and transfer of data
  • Effective communication between scientists
  • Flexible approach to incorporate unexpected results

The ultimate aim is for the CRO and client to successfully solve a problem together and achieve results in line with each other’s expectations. This can only be achieved through meaningful discussions, honest feedback, mutual respect and productive collaboration.

Why Small is Beautiful! Working with Smaller CRO’s Can Often Bring Surprising Research Rewards:

In today’s economic environment, more and more drug discovery companies outsource their research to CROs. This has led to increased competition within the CRO industry over the last decade. Whilst big contract research organisations have much to offer, small to medium size CROs are desirable in their own ways.

Small ‘boutique’ CROs are usually specialised and well qualified in their niche areas. They are often founded by individuals or groups of scientists who have decades of expertise in a particular field, giving their companies a competitive advantage. Small CROs can be more bespoke and flexible in their functioning due to reduced organisational complexities, making the client’s journey to delivery a lot smoother. Additionally, their links with other CROs and life science companies can potentially bring together the skills in each of the smaller organisations, if required by the client. As pharmaceutical and biotech companies constantly face new, competitive, regulatory and economic challenges, small CROs offer cost- effective solutions whilst maintaining the quality of research. Most importantly, they offer a personal touch to the projects since the CRO scientists that clients get in touch with initially are usually the ones handling their projects in the laboratory.


Case Study:

Aurelia Bioscience, a small biology CRO, has partnered with a wide range of clients to move their compounds and biologics through the multiple stages of early drug discovery. Their alliance with an Oxford based client is a good example of collaborative success.

The client aimed to generate novel anti- cancer compounds. To prosecute this approach, Aurelia Bioscience developed robust cell- based assays designed to determine cellular differentiation and cytotoxicity. They also worked closely with a chemistry CRO to adhere to a one week design-make-test cycle for compound progression and collaborated with other life science companies at various stages during the course of the project. The outcome was the successful generation of lead series with novel IP. The client has gone on to effectively test these series in in-vivo tumour models and is now using this study as an exemplar of their approach.

Follow the link to the poster to learn more.

Fluorescence Polarisation assay developed for client project using membranes from cells expressing the SMO receptor and a fluorescence tagged SMO ligand- Cyclopamine

Fluorescence Polarisation assay developed for the client’s project using membranes from cells expressing the SMO receptor and a fluorescence tagged SMO ligand- Cyclopamine


Are you a drug discovery company looking to outsource your next project? Our scientists have decades of experience in pre-clinical discovery, designing and developing low, medium and high throughput assays for pharmacological profiling, hits generation, lead identification and lead optimisation. Get in touch with our team and let us help you discover the next breakthrough drug!

Share This