BioLink Life Sciences has carved itself a profitable niche in the contract research sector by focusing on drugs with problems, says Deanna Nelson, Ph.D., its president and founder.

The company moved into a spacious new 5,300 square foot office-laboratory space in west Cary in February. “And we’ve been settling in ever since,” Nelson tells Local Tech Wire. “Now we’re ready to grow.”

BioLink, founded in 2001, sells specialized biological reagents used in research. It is developing unique biosensors with the University of Wisconsin at Madison, and it provides a variety of consulting and research services to drug development firms large and small. By necessity, it has been profitable from the start.

“I pulled all my savings together and borrowed, finding whatever pennies I could, resolved to fulfill a dream,” says Nelson. “It wasn’t the best timing,” she says of launching the company in 2001. She says that while BioLink is considering seeking venture capital and has applied for Small Business Innovative Research Grants, “Our client base supplies us with a nice revenue stream we’re confident will continue.”

Nelson says BioLink has about a dozen solid clients producing profits but is poised to grow further since moving into a new laboratory space the company had designed to meet the rigorous standards of the pharmaceutical industry and built in Centre West Business Park, Cary. Like the company, the office/lab space is designed to meet the needs of a broad range of analytical, biochemical and medical research.

Labs to Accelerate Research

“We looked around the Triangle a year and a half without finding something that would really meet our needs but were not successful,” Nelson says. “So we constructed our own.”

Now, says Nelson, the company has the ability to provide full-service support for its pharmaceutical and biotech clients.

Nelson says work in the new labs will accelerate its development of proprietary biosensor and drug delivery methods. It expects those products to open doors for new strategic relationships and development partners, both standard routes to revenue streams that support companies in route to U.S. Federal Drug Administration approval of new therapeutics.

Nelson says one of the things the company has in the works is a technology for oral delivery of some drugs previously only available through injection.

One of the handful of biotech Holy Grails is oral and/or nasal spray delivery of large protein drugs otherwise only available via needle. Insulin, while not one BioLink is working on, is an example.

Nelson says the strategy of focusing on problem drugs helped BioLink find room to expand in a market crowded with what she calls “good one-stop shops” for biotech and pharmaceutical research, such as Quintilles.

Nelson says the company’s work on biosensors could help sniff out bioterrorist attacks. “The projected size of that market is in the billions. If we could get a portion of the homeland defense money, it should be a very nice revenue stream.”

Nelson founded the company after developing a Magellan Labs synthesis program into a profitable part of the company, and with Baxter Healthcare as part of an entrepreneurial group developing a blood substitute, which never got off the ground.

BioLink Life Sciences Web Site: