Quotient Bioresearch, the fast-growing drug development services arm of the UK-based Quotient Bioscience group, has agreed to acquire Amersham Radiolabelling Services, the radiochemical custom synthesis operations of GE Healthcare, for an undisclosed sum.

The acquisition, Quotient’s seventh since its formation in early 2007, brings on board an established bespoke service for the custom synthesis and supply of carbon-14 and tritium labelled compounds to the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries.

The Amersham Radiolabelling Services operations, and some 75 of the unit’s scientific and commercial staff, will combine with the radiochemistry and metabolism activities of Quotient Bioresearch to create a new strategic business unit, Quotient Chemistry & Metabolism. This Cardiff-based group will provide Quotient-Amersham Radiochemicals branded products and services to more than 250 clients worldwide.

Quotient also plans to invest up to £15 million in a new state-of-the-art laboratory for Amersham Radiolabelling Services in Cardiff, Wales. The completion of this facility is timed to coincide with GE Healthcare ceasing its radiolabelling operations at the end of March 2010.

As such, and to minimise any disruption to customers, the transfer of Amersham operations and staff to Quotient will occur in three stages. The global sales operations cross over immediately, with the carbon-14 and tritium radiolabelling services transfering to Quotient by the end of 2009 and by March 2010 respectively.

Once the Cardiff facility is completed, Quotient will have an overall staff of more than 600 spread across its UK facilities. Stephen Lewinton, current managing director of Quotient’s Drug Development Services Group, is taking up this position at Quotient Chemistry & Metabolism.

According to Quotient, the acquisition reinforces its commitment to providing a seamless ‘synthesis to clinical study report’ capacity to pharmaceutical and biotechnology clients that conduct studies involving radiolabelled compounds.

The enlarged operation will combine the manufacture of custom radiolabelled drug compounds with a full range of in vivo and in vitro metabolism studies conforming to all the relevant US Food and Drug Administration guidelines; clinical trials, including human AME (absorption-metabolism-excretion), IV MicrotracerTM and Phase 0 microdosing studies; and a broad range of bioanalytical services.

“This acquisition and the formation of Quotient Chemistry & Metabolism represent a major step in the building of the Group’s integrated approach to metabolism and carbon-14 enabled drug development capability,” said Quotient chairman and chief executive Paul Cowan. “We are uniquely placed to offer our clients stand-alone services or a fully integrated service offering in this area, with all the associated benefits.”