US-based contract research organisation (CRO) Parexel International has opened a third facility for early-phase clinical trials in South Africa.

The new unit in Port Elizabeth adds more than 40 beds to Parexel’s global early-phase capacity of over 580 beds, which the CRO says is among the largest worldwide. The company already runs early-phase facilities in Bloemfontein and George, South Africa.

As well as providing the capability for a variety of studies in healthy volunteers, the Port Elizabeth unit will maintain a core focus on early-phase studies in patients, from First in Man to Proof of Concept, Parexel noted.

It will also be part of the CRO’s SuperSites network, which promises rapid study enrolment by drawing on dedicated patient recruitment specialists and relationships with local healthcare professionals.

“Increasing the number of patients per site and reducing the overall number of sites in a study serves to decrease variability – improving study quality and reproducibility,” commented Michelle Middle, Parexel’s corporate vice president and worldwide head of Early Phase.

The Port Elizabeth unit joins a network of early-phase facilities that are “integrated and harmonised to handle complex global studies involving healthy volunteers and patient populations”, she added. Parexel’s early-phase capabilities are spread across three continents, including sites in Baltimore and Los Angeles, US; London, UK; and Berlin, Germany.