Worldwide Clinical Trials (WCT), a full service US contract research organisation (CRO) focused mainly on central nervous system (CNS) and cardiovascular diseases, has completed its fifth acquisition in the last year.

The Beverly Hills, California-based company has taken over MediQuest, a CRO with headquarters in Belgrade, Serbia that provides specialised clinical development services to biopharmaceutical companies in Eastern, Central and Southern Europe, for an undisclosed sum. WCT called the acquisition “a milestone in establishing itself as a premier global contract research organisation”.

The string of five acquisitions extends the CRO’s global footprint to more than 30 countries, it pointed out. Before MediQuest came Evidence Clinical and Pharmaceutical Research in Russia, Clinical Studies Management Group and bioanalytical chemistry specialist CEDRA in the US, and Nottingham Clinical Research in the UK.

WCT provides clinical consulting and Phase I-IV drug development services to global pharmaceutical, speciality pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. Along with its core CNS and cardiovascular expertise, the CRO has significant experience in chronic inflammatory disease, metabolism/endocrinology and oncology, it says.

The company was founded in 2007 by Dr Neal Cutler in partnership with The Jordan Company, a leading private firm. They revived the name of a company Dr Cutler and his team had originally formed in 1994 (the operation started in 1986 as an investigational site) and subsequently sold to UnitedHealth in 1999.

Cutler is known for having pioneered a number of “revolutionary and innovative” techniques, such as the Bridging and Dynabridge studies, that increased the quality, safety and speed of drug development, WCT said.

The company has pursued a “highly selective” acquisition strategy, targeting companies that complement its existing skill-set. According to Cutler, WCT’s presence in Eastern Europe and Russia, “two of the most attractive growth regions for clinical trials”, helps to “transform our business into a truly global contract research organisation”.