Pharma Focus Asia


A trusted partner

The Year 2021 is a defining milestone for Aragen in its journey so far. It marks the 20th anniversary of GVK BIO’s resilient growth story and its transformation into Aragen, a trusted R&D and manufacturing partner to the global life sciences industry. With Aragen, a new brand identity has been unveiled, an inspiring purpose, and a promise to customers: Together Ahead.


One of the biggest challenges confronting pharma and biotech companies globally is the ever-increasing R&D costs to bring new drugs into the market. The regulatory approvals are also getting more stringent which stretches the overall time required for new launches. The complexity of personalised care and treatment makes this even more complex and challenging. According to a recent study by Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development and published in the Journal of Health Economics, developing a new prescription medicine that gains marketing approval is estimated to cost drug makers US$2.6 billion. and on an average it takes at least ten years for a new medicine to complete the journey from initial discovery to the marketplace, with clinical trials alone taking six to seven years on average. The number of blockbuster drugs being launched are also diminishing. All these factors have led to a paradigm shift in the strategies pharma companies adopt to drive their innovation for discovering new drugs.

Externalisation of R&D is one of the strategies adopted globally to drive innovation. Gone are the days of companies having extensive in-house R&D infrastructure to conduct all their research activities internally. With the growing need of being agile to drive efficiencies in the delivery of new therapeutic options, pharma companies are more open to partner with contract research organisations, universities and even with other pharma companies to leverage on the plethora of new approaches used in modern drug discovery for both small molecules and large molecules.

Contract Research Organisations (CROs) now play an increasing role in such strategic partnerships and are a key component in the discoverydevelopment-manufacturing continuum. Aragen Life Sciences, formerly known as GVK Biosciences, is one such organisation that makes a difference to the research programs of its pharmaceutical customers globally. These companies see Aragen as their trusted R&D and manufacturing partner. Right from ‘concept to commercial’, Aragen helps transform ideas into solutions for better health. Over the last two years, Aragen has always adopted a partnership approach, providing solutions led by an innovation mind set and enabling technologies.

Aragen is well poised to provide this critical partnership in the concept-to-commercial continuum. Aragen recognizes that such research work is vital, urgent and impacts lives. Through its purpose, ‘In every molecule is the possibility for better health’ Aragen motivates every employee in the organisation to drive the success of sponsor programs, so that together it helps transform hope into health for millions of people around the world.

Aragen offers services ranging from Discovery to development to manufacturing, from chemistry to biology and across both small and large molecules. Aragen has invested in world class facilities at multiple locations to accelerate the development process. Aragen has invested in proprietary technologies and operational efficiencies to compress development timelines, offer a secure and seamless experience, and accelerate speed to market of customer products. With all of these steps, Aragen is an end-to-end, full-service partner to customers, offering scalable and flexible solutions along the biopharma value chain.

With partnerships around the globe, Aragen ensures that a culture of compliance is built across the organisation to meet global expectations. Robust quality systems across its various facilities ensure that customers can expect the same quality standards irrespective of location. While a quality leadership team with over 180 years of combined experience anchors the solutions offered, Aragen firmly believes that quality is everyone’s responsibility. From senior management to the shop floor, all are equally committed to delivering zerodefect products to customers, on time, and in full. Aragen has been audited and approved by leading regulatory agencies from around the world, including the USFDA, EDQM, ANVISA, PMDA and WHO.

The 20-year journey

The humble beginning of GVK Biosciences was a realisation of a dream of a 20 year old engineering student at Purdue University, by Mr. G V Sanjay Reddy, who aspired to create a global company to provide Pharma services. During the initial years, the company was an informatics company. With every passing year, the company reached new heights. In 2002, the company got its first breakthrough when the company signed its first FTE contract. With time the company grew, and in the year 2004, started with clinical pharmacology operations.

In 2005, GVK Biosciences partnered with Wyeth Research to establish a dedicated Discovery Chemistry Research Center at Nacharam, which eventually expanded into an integrated R&D campus for discovery, development, and manufacturing solutions; and from 2006, started offering biology solutions to our clients. The expansion attracted Sequoia capital to invest in GVK Biosciences, which helped the company to deepen its roots in the pharma market and begin its first integrated discovery program in 2008. With enough funds and recognition in the market, the company took another leap and expanded its Chemistry, Biology, and Integrated Discovery services to cover more therapeutic areas in 2010. With every passing year, the brand equity of GVK Biosciences increased, and in 2012, it established itself by starting India’s largest Isotope Labelling Facility in Hyderabad. The same year the company received PMDA (Japan) approval for Inogent Manufacturing Facility, and in 2013, it received approval from the USFDA, EU, and KFDA.

GVK Biosciences reached new heights as it established the Formulation Development Labs in Bengaluru, India in 2014; and inaugurated its second R&D Campus at Mallapur, Hyderabad, to commence the Discovery and Development operations in that year. While ensuring better infrastructure for the company, it acquired Aragen Bioscience Inc., a US-based preclinical with CRO specialisation in high-value biologics services, in January 2014, which became operational at Vivarium in Morgan Hill, CA in 2016 and received its AAALAC accreditation in 2017. The acquisition strengthened the company in the global pharma market. This acquisition opened a whole new window of opportunity.

The acquisition of Aragen Biosciences attracted ChrysCapital to invest in the company, and with the fresh investment the third R&D Campus in Bengaluru in 2016 to offer the Chemistry solutions was established. With access to more capital, the company expanded its wings and was able to set up a Fine Chemical Manufacturing Plant in Hyderabad in 2017.

The years 2018 and 2019 saw expansion of the laboratory and manufacturing facilities. The company inaugurated its Analytical Development Labs at Mallapur R&D Campus and established the second manufacturing facility at Visakhapatnam. It also established Formulation Development Center in Mallapur R&D Campus in January 2019. Inogent Laboratories was merged with GVK BIO to augment the manufacturing infrastructure for APIs and intermediates.

In May 2021, Goldman Sachs invested in GVK BIO. The rebranding to Aragen Life Sciences coincided with Goldman Sachs investment. This development underscores the tremendous opportunity that lies ahead and with Goldman Sachs as investors, Aragen is well equipped to become a global leader in end-toend solutions for drug discovery, development and manufacturing.

Caring for the employees

Aragen Lifesciences believes in offering professional services with a humane touch to both clients and its employees. In 2020, the company won Asia’s best employer award from the World HRD Congress and also became a ‘Great Place to Work’ certified™ organisation.

The new identity embodies the brand promise, Together Ahead.

The seamless coming together of two forms and their collaborative movement, perfectly indicated in the symbol of Aragen, the “AURA,” and represents Aragen’s partnerships that enable infinite possibilities for better health.

The colours evoke Aragen’s brand purpose, “In every molecule is the possibility for better health”. Deep blue conveys the possibilities of science, and vibrant orange symbolizes life and better health. The AURA also represents its ambitious, resilient approach to serving its client.

With this renewed energy and focus on the strong employee base, Aragen Lifesciences stands strong to continue to serve its existing and new customers across the globe, with a promise to work with its partners and make them successful in the race for good health.

--Issue 44--

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