US-based diagnostic testing specialist Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings (LabCorp) is tapping into a global network of central laboratories, as well as support tools for clinical trial management and personalised medicine, by acquiring existing partner Clearstone Central Laboratories.

No financial terms were disclosed from the definitive agreement that consolidates a global collaboration announced by LabCorp and Clearstone in August 2010. The new transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of 2011.

Clearstone is privately owned by investment firm Czura Thornton, which acquired the former MDS Pharma Services Central Labs business in November 2009.

As with the two companies’ strategic alliance, which operated through LabCorp’s Esoterix Clinical Trials Services division, acquiring Clearstone gives LabCorp access to the former’s global network of central laboratories, including sites in China, France, Singapore and Canada.

LabCorp will also take on Clearstone’s central laboratory protocol management system, APOLLO CLPM, which offers clients real-time access to global data, a strengthened chain of custody, automated sample stability monitoring, and “guaranteed consistency” across all lab sites.

According to LabCorp, the combined entity will also have the largest available biomarker assay portfolio, with globally harmonised and state-of-the-art testing platforms in areas such as pharmacogenomics, microbiology, immunohistochemistry, allergy testing, cytogenetics and flow cytometry.

Complementary strengths

“This acquisition fully combines the complementary strengths of the Clearstone and LabCorp clinical trials businesses to support drug development,” said David King, chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) of LabCorp.

The deal extends LabCorp’s global footprint and service capabilities in key geographies such as the Asia Pacific region, while advancing the company’s companion diagnostics and personalised medicine strategy, King noted.

“Clearstone has already been working closely with LabCorp’s Esoterix division under a strategic collaboration agreement, which has resulted in a number of client success stories,” commented CEO Lewis Cameron. “We will now be a single team that is completely focused on exceeding our customer’s drug development objectives.”

Last September LabCorp paid US$925 million in cash for Genzyme’s genetic testing business, which the US biotech (since acquired by Sanofi) was offloading as part of a three-part divestiture of non-core operations announced in May 2010.