Nexelis: The Next Generation Advanced Testing Lab

Dr. Benoit Bouche | Ph.D. AMP, President & CEO | Nexelis
Dr. Benoit Bouche | Ph.D. AMP, President & CEO | Nexelis

With people’s health at the art, Nexelis contributes to saving lives by supporting pharmaceutical and biotech companies in the development of vaccines and large molecules. The company’s dedicated team of scientists and versatile technology platforms have been instrumental in the development, qualification and validation of assays supporting FDA filing of blockbuster biologics, such as vaccines and complex large molecules. Nexelis has established a strong reputation among the biotech industry and regulatory bodies. With its deep scientific expertise, high-tech platforms and a broad range of instrumentation and automated systems, Nexelis can provide robust and innovative assays for fast and reliable preclinical and clinical immunological sample analysis. In an interview with CIO Look, Dr. Benoit Bouche, Ph.D. AMP, President and Chief Executive Officer of Nexelis have shared few of the key pointers regarding the unique balance of world class standards and human scale collaboration.

Below are the highlights of the interview:

Give a brief overview of your company, its uniqueness and its vision. 

Nexelis is a global immunology centric specialty contract service provider with 200 people and 3 operating sites in North America (East and West Coast) and Europe. Spun-off from GSK vaccines in 2015, the company has grown exponentially through organic and inorganic initiatives, positioning it as a reference service provider in a number of segments including infectious vaccines, immunotherapies and cell or gene therapies targeting cancer and metabolic diseases. Our versatile team of scientists, working with our advanced technology platforms, was instrumental in the development, qualification, validation, and largescale sample testing of assays that supported the FDA filing of more than 100 new molecular entities, including blockbuster vaccines and anti-viral drugs.

Describe your company’s cutting-edge solutions, which address all the needs of your customers. 

Nexelis services consist in: R&D whose aim is to develop, qualify, and validate biomarkers and bioanalytical assays to study desired or undesired immunogenicity; High-throughput testing: immunochemistry, functional and cell-based assays (killing and neutralization assays); Contract preclinical and clinical research support services.

Give a detailed description of the featured person’s influence over the company and the industry. 

Dr. Bouche, as a serial entrepreneur in the outsourcing field, came on board with the strong conviction that the concentration in the Contract Research Organization (CRO) market left broad open incredible opportunities to companies capable of showing superior agility than multinational CRO giants whose size and overheads are a handicap, and not a competitive advantage for turnaround time optimization purposes.

How do your services differ from the other companies’ offerings? 

Nexelis excels by combining robust protocols with scientific discipline, human agility and client partnership in order to answer the most demanding mission requirements.

What technologies are you leveraging to make your solutions resourceful and bringing advancement in the industry? 

Nexelis in vitro state-of-the-art analytical platforms include immunochemistry, cellular immunology, viral and bacterial functional assays, flow cytometry and PCR/qPCR. Those laboratory tests are supported by in silico and in vivo teams (in house (BSL2) and preclinical facilities) and a protein sciences group.

Describe the experiences, achievements or lessons learned that have shaped the journey of the company. 

In 2020, two large CROs, although not pure players, will generate revenues of $10B USD, and eight CROs will contribute to another $1B USD. The market share of the top 10 players is increasing year over year and the M&A market is still quite dynamic. In short, size does matter in our business based on risk mitigation policies by the pharmaceutical industry. No doubt that these giant CROs are well positioned to capture mainstream clinical opportunities where global coverage and logistic capabilities only really matter. Some birds are not meant to be caged, however. Niche segments such as specialty laboratory testing is a totally different world requiring organizations centered around senior scientific leaders aiming at favoring versatility and ingenuity. This segment is extremely fragmented with hundreds of academic groups and transactional CROs with less than 100 people, who don’t have the resources, credentials, or equipment to be considered as potential preferred vendors by the pharmaceutical company. We believe to be one among a handful of mid-size organizations in a position to build a world class champion providing highly specialized services. Nexelis results from the merger between entities with prestigious roots spun off from the pharmaceutical industry (GSK vaccines) or the academic world and have a leading position in areas such as infectious vaccines and immune therapies.

What are your company’s future aspirations? What strategies are you undertaking to achieve those goals? 

Nexelis management aims at bringing the company to the next level and further expands its scope of services to become a one stop shop from the early development stage to the late clinical stage for companies to whom desired or undesired immunogenicity is a core topic. Our future resides in our capacity to maintain the venture entrepreneurial mindset, focusing on leveraging the skills of the best scientists in town and invest massively in the innovative technologies required to stay the reference CRO in the specialty lab services  segment.