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Contract research news in brief

Published on 18/06/10 at 07:00am

Good news abounds in the CRO sector at the moment, with a raft of business expansions, investments, and new contracts announced in the last few days.

UK-based contract research organisation Phlexglobal has expanded into the US market opening an office in Carlsbad, California, its first outside of Europe. The move comes in response to an increasing number of US-based clients, according to the CRO, which has developed an electronic Trial Master File (eTMF) software called PhlexEview for clinical trial management. The US operation will be headed by Aidan Nuttall, who was formerly president of Chiltern International's US operations.

Covance has expanded its central laboratory capacity with the opening of a 20,000 sq.ft. biorepository facility in the US for long-term storage of clinical trial samples, including DNA, blood and other biological materials. The $15 million unit lies adjacent to the company's biomarker facility, which opened last year, and is close to its largest central laboratory location in Indianapolis.

Chiltern International has launched a new data service called Collaborative Technologies which provides "a single access point to clinical study data and the central document repository for the entire study team", wherever they are located around the world. "This means faster decisions can be made on the study which results in time and cost savings for our clients," commented the company's chief executive Glenn Kerkhof.

Bristol-Myers Squibb has signed high-level partnerships with Parexel and ICON plc to provide "strategic, operational and capability support" of its clinical development programmes over the next three years. The aim is to reduce fixed costs, shorten development times and bring clinical projects to market more quickly, said the companies. Financial terms of the agreements have not been disclosed.

Meanwhile, ICON has launched a web-based laboratory application that it says enables more efficient use of medical monitoring time. The ICOLabs Medical Review Application (IMRA) helps project managers and trial monitors keep tabs on test results, monitor study progress, observe clinical trends and generate custom reports, says the company. The platform will also allow physicians to respond more quickly to emerging safety signals.

Russia-based CRO ClinStar is taking its first steps towards setting up clinical operations in the USA, by retaining clinical research consultant Stephen Fogelson to help run the US portions of the company's international studies. ClinStar currently has operations in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and the Baltic states.

Quintiles has introduced a suite of biomarker assays to help biopharmaceutical companies investigate the phosphoinositide 3-kinases (PI3K) cancer survival pathway, which is a focus of numerous anticancer therapies under development. The recent American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) meeting in Chicago included presentations on a number of P13K-acting drugs, including phase I results on Genentech's GDC-0941, Novartis' BKM120 and BEZ235 and Exelixis' XL147.

Phil Taylor

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