The Development Solutions division of Irish contract research organisation (CRO) ICON has boosted its early-phase trial and respiratory capabilities by forming a partnership with the UK-based Medicines Evaluation Unit (MEU).

Established in 1994 and owned by the North West Lung Centre charity, the MEU operates out of an 18-bed clinical research facility purpose-built on the Wythenshawe National Health Service Hospital site in Manchester. Its speciality is Phase I-IV clinical trials in respiratory/inflammatory medicine and related fields. The unit is fully accredited for Good Laboratory Practice (GCP) and has conducted more than 150 studies over the past 13 years, mainly in respiratory medicine.

ICON said the collaboration agreement would widen its respiratory scope and enable it to “perform early-phase studies in a hospital-based environment that has access to specialist equipment and ITU [intensive therapy unit] services”. The MEU “has an outstanding reputation for performing high-quality clinical research and its hospital location will give IDS enhanced capabilities to run first-in-man trials”, commented Thomas Frey, president of ICON Development Solutions (IDS).

David Rogers, director of operations for the MEU, said the partnership would allow the unit to “offer a full clinical trial portfolio to clients from first-in-man to later phase studies whilst still maintaining our core respiratory expertise”.

ICON has conducted more than 880 Phase I studies in its own 80-bed clinical research unit in Manchester over the past decade. The CRO’s Development Services division focuses on the strategy, management and execution of product development and early-phase clinical development.