US-based contract research organisation (CRO) Quintiles has opened an office in Accra, Ghana, opening a gateway to potentially huge patient populations in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The new office is located at the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research in the grounds of the University of Ghana. It builds on an existing relationship with director Professor Alex Nyarko, who noted that the Institute is already working with Quintiles on a “landmark” paediatric malaria study targeted to enrol more than 16,000 patients across seven sub-Saharan countries.

Quintiles has also entered into a partner-site agreement with Professor David Ofori-Adjei, a specialist physician at the Institute with more than 30 years’ experience in studying infectious diseases.

As Gillian Corken, chief executive officer of Quintiles Africa, pointed out, the estimated overall population of Sub-Saharan Africa runs to 760 million. The initial focus of the Accra office will be on more locally prevalent diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis and HIV.

“However, we anticipate that as the infrastructure and economies in Africa develop, like many other non-traditional regions before, it will play an increasingly important role in recruiting patients for many other therapeutic areas, such as oncology and cardiovascular,” Corken commented.

Quintiles already has an established operation in South Africa that provides a range of services including clinical activities, regulatory support, partner sites, data management, biostatistics and laboratory services, she noted.