Selecting the right Contract Research Organisation

Published: 25 May 2023

With a growing demand for contract research organisation (CRO) services, it is increasingly challenging to identify the right CRO partner to work with. In our latest blog Duncan McArthur, Associate Director of Chemistry at BioAscent, explores the importance of selecting the right CRO and why BioAscent is an ideal CRO partner for customers.

At BioAscent, our focus is on quality as well as strong, open, and honest communication with our customers. We think this sets us apart from some of the larger, overseas CROs. We can also provide a more tailored service to our customers.

Location, location, location

We work in a truly global market; in fact, we are now working for more biotechs and companies based overseas (especially in the US) in addition to our UK customers.

There are several good reasons for this. Being based in Scotland, we benefit from easily manageable time differences between here and the US, making communication easier, response times quicker, and improving efficiencies.

Communication is key

It goes without saying that being able to communicate easily with our customers is important. This allows us to get projects off to a good start with a clear understanding of objectives and expectations from both parties.

In a global industry language and cultural barriers can present challenges with communication resulting in mixed messages or misunderstandings, especially where complex projects or science are involved. At BioAscent we work to overcome barriers and ensure there is clarity from the outset as to what is required.

For a US biotech, big time-zone differences can be prohibitive to open and fast communication – significantly time-delayed email conversations don’t enable collaborative working. Wherever possible our fully UK based scientific team aims for a same day response, quickly answering any questions and enabling effective decision making.

In addition to regular project meetings and email, we speak to our customers when they need us to address any queries in real time and ensure clarity and understanding on both sides. This approach saves time, improves efficiencies, enables us to discuss the scientific approaches in more detail whilst building trust in the relationship.

Focus on doing the right chemistry

We are sometimes asked how we measure productivity. For us, the best measure by far is success of a project, and based on glowing testimonials from happy customers we are proud of our record in this regard! Our approach is one of honesty, ensuring we always have open conversations to determine when to stop, or change approach.

Our medicinal chemistry teams react quickly and sensibly to data and our customers’ requests – the focus is always on making the right compounds. We are not driven by simple box-ticking measures and unsophisticated metrics that can delay reaction to data-based strategic decisions. Everyone at BioAscent has objectives, and for the chemists this does include working towards certain reaction outputs, but also to ensure we are taking the best approach. Work smart and hard!

Another key differentiator from many other CROs is that unless there is a good reason not to, BioAscent’s chemists will purify and fully analyse most synthetic intermediates during a synthetic sequence. As a result, you can have confidence that the synthesis is more likely to succeed and be reliable and reproducible.

We also actively encourage our chemists to use novel and emerging synthetic methodologies, such as flow-, photo- and electrochemistry and regularly use these to problem solve on projects. As a result, we have evolved our mindset to also consider non-traditional ways to disconnect target molecules and facilitate rapid delivery. Recent examples include use of sp2-sp3 photoredox coupling chemistry to shorten a synthetic route to a key building block from 8 steps down to 1, and effective use of flow synthesis to solve a capricious Negishi cross coupling. We also use “pool and split” high throughput experimentation, for example using this technique to screen 1728 reactions for a troublesome copper mediated coupling and rapidly identify the cleanest and highest yielding for scale up.

Working with BioAscent

What makes BioAscent an ideal CRO partner is the combination of our expertise, capabilities, and knowledge along with the ability to be agile and communicate openly and honestly. We are focused on delivering the best outcomes for customers’ projects. All our customers have access to the most experienced scientists at BioAscent, with every project having a senior project leader involved.

We know the science doesn’t always work. We can learn from this, and at BioAscent we will take ownership when the science hasn’t given the results we were expecting. This is where we can apply our expertise, knowledge and innovative thinking to solve problems.

Our global customer base comes to us because of the quality and breadth of expertise we offer, and our open and collaborative approach. Our base in the UK makes us ideally placed to work effectively with customers located in the US and Europe.

To find out more about our services or to enquire about working with BioAscent, contact a member of the team.

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