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Saffron Walden

The CRL saffron Walden site is located on a science park just south of Cambridge UK.  It is perfectly located to service the Golden Triangle of research (Oxford, Cambridge, London). 


The park’s environment and facilities have attracted leading bioscience names including AstraZeneca, Lonza and Isogenica, cementing its reputation as a prime location at the centre of innovation within the South Cambridgeshire Biotech Cluster.


Working closely with its sister site in Harlow (45 mins drive), the Saffron Walden site provides all aspects of in vitro drug discovery for our Partner organisations.

We currently have 300 staff on site with over 250 highly qualified scientists in the broad areas of chemistry, biology and DMPK.  On average they have 18 years industrial experience with an average of 7 years within our organisation.  As this is the UK headquarters, most of the matrix functions of IT, HR, Legal, Finance etc are based here.  

At saffron Walden we provide drug discovery services to multiple partners and these collaborations cover the spectrum from small, single discipline projects to fully integrated drug discovery projects.  We have worked across all major druggable target classes and therapeutic areas and a range of rare and neglected diseases with in depth experience in CNS and oncology.  Our work is mainly based around small molecules and we have recently increased our work in the area of large molecules.  We are proud of our record of achievement.  Together with our sister site in Harlow, we have run around 300 small molecule projects in H2L and LO and invented over 80 pre-clinical candidates for our partner organisations.  


We are reliant on our Partner company to tell us when compounds progress and so there may well be further compounds that have progressed into clinic that we are not aware of.  We have one compound that has reached the market, Belinostat, and a further 6 compounds that have reached Phase III. 

Our DMPK scientists, chemists and biologists work very closely together on integrated drug discovery projects to interpret data and drive projects to ultimate goals.

Within our biology group we support Cell line generation, Customised assay development, Biomarker development, High-throughput screening, Automated electrophysiology, Compound profiling, Primary cell screening, Structural biology, Fragment screening, Stem cells and proteomics.

Within chemistry we provide synthetic and medicinal chemistry with a particular experience in complex chemistry and problem solving, analytical and purification both achiral and chiral, computational chemistry and cheminformatics, support for intellectual property generation, and green chemistry.

Our DMPK department supports in vitro ADME screening, metabolite identification, bioanalysis, high throughput mass spec analysis, customised work packages to address specific question across different industries.  This team works closely with in vivo sites to provide PK and PK/PD support and interpretation to client projects

The CRL Saffron Walden facility was acquired by CRL in April 2014 from Galapagos. Galapagos acquired BioFocus in 2005 and continued to have it operate under the BioFocus name.  BioFocus was a contract Research organisation focused in early stage in vitro drug discovery.  It was the very first company to be established at the Science Park in Saffron Walden when it was founded in 2000.  We still have 6 of the original 22 staff that joined BioFocus in 2000!

Our main clients are mid-size pharma, Biotech, non-for-profit organizations and Academia.  More than 50% of our business originates from North America.

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