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Charles River (CRL) Signs saRNA-Based Vaccine Manufacture Deal

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Charles River Laboratories International, Inc. (CRL - Free Report) recently inked an agreement with Ziphius Vaccines to manufacture starting materials critical to clinical-stage research. This collaboration will help Ziphius Vaccines to develop a proprietary self-amplifying mRNA (saRNA) technology platform combined with innovative lipid formulations for delivery.

Per Charles River’s management, the advancement of saRNA technologies will facilitate the development of vaccines and therapeutic programs.

This collaboration will likely bolster Charles River’s comprehensive cell and gene therapy portfolio within the Biologics business.

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In 2021, Charles River acquired Cognate BioServices, Cobra Biologics and Vigene Biosciences. These buyouts expanded the company’s comprehensive cell and gene therapy offering with the addition of contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) capabilities covering viral vector, plasmid DNA and cellular therapy production for clinical through to commercial supply.

The recent collaboration will use Charles River’s expertise in Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and High Quality (HQ) plasmid DNA production. The custom HQ plasmid offering is expected to benefit Ziphius Vaccines with accelerated timelines without sacrificing quality.

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According to management at Ziphius Vaccines, the collaboration represents an important milestone toward clinical testing and further validation of its vaccine candidates.

Industry Prospects

Per a report by MarketsandMarkets, the global vaccines market is expected to witness a CAGR of 10.2% during 2021-2026. Factors attributable to market growth include the rising government support and focus on developing vaccines and immunization and the growing cases of infectious diseases.

Given the market potential, Charles River’s recent collaboration to offer plasmid DNA for an early-stage saRNA manufacturing program seems strategic.

Other Notable Developments

This month, Charles River inked an agreement with ASC Therapeutics, a privately-held biopharmaceutical company, to manufacture a second-generation gene therapy for hemophilia A, ASC618. The ASC618 program has gained IND clearance and other key regulatory designations in the United States and Europe. The collaboration will leverage Charles River’s end-to-end CDMO capabilities.

In April 2022, Charles River and Valo Health, Inc (“Valo”) launched Logica, an artificial intelligence-powered drug solution. The Logica directly translates clients’ biological insights into optimized preclinical assets. It utilizes Valo’s Opal Computational Platform and Charles River’s preclinical expertise to offer clients transformed drug discovery through a single integrated offering.

Share Price Performance

The stock has outperformed its industry in the past year. It has declined 39.4% compared with the industry’s 50.7% fall.

Zacks Rank and Key Picks

Currently, Charles River carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

A few better-ranked stocks in the broader medical space that investors can consider are AMN Healthcare Services, Inc. (AMN - Free Report) , Novo Nordisk (NVO - Free Report) and Masimo Corporation (MASI - Free Report) .

AMN Healthcare has a long-term earnings growth rate of 1.1%. The company surpassed earnings estimates in the trailing four quarters, delivering a surprise of 15.6%, on average. It currently flaunts a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

AMN Healthcare has outperformed its industry in the past year. AMN has gained 18.2% against the industry’s 50.8% fall.

Novo Nordisk has a long-term earnings growth rate of 14.5%. The company surpassed earnings estimates in the trailing four quarters, delivering a surprise of 7.6%, on average. It currently flaunts a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

Novo Nordisk has outperformed its industry in the past year. NVO has gained 31.2% against the industry’s 19.3% growth.

Masimo has a historical earnings growth rate of 15.1%. Masimo’s earnings surpassed estimates in the trailing four quarters, the average surprise being 4.4%. It currently carries a Zacks Rank #2.

Masimo has underperformed its industry in the past year. MASI has declined 44.2% compared with the industry’s 25.6% plunge.