Celerion has become the latest clinical-research organisation (CRO) to put down roots in South Korea, which is attracting growing interest as a preferred location for drug development.

The US-based CRO, formed in 2010 from the Early Stage Development operations and the Development and Regulatory Services consultancy of MDS Pharma Services, has opened a new Asian office in South Korea within the SNUH Clinical Trials Centre, as part of a partnership with Seoul National University Hospital (SNUH).

The arrangement gives Celerion and its clients access to the 80-bed clinical research unit, which is particularly geared towards clinical pharmacology, oncology and pediatrics, as well as to the centre’s trained staff.

The Clinical Trials Centre’s focus is on translational medicine, which aligns with Celerion’s own strategic emphasis on providing “effective global services that support growing interest in complex early clinical studies”, the CRO noted.

Celerion has also built relationships with (and audited) three other clinical-trial centres in South Korea, which will help address a need for multi-site early studies in patients who often require confinement, it pointed out.

The new Asian office will be overseen by John Horkulak, Celerion’s executive director, Eurasian site operations.  

Clinical-pharmacology support

Over the past 10 years, the South Korean government has been providing the funds and resources to create a network of well-equipped hospital-based clinical trial centres as a focus for training and growth in clinical pharmacology, Celerion observed.

By partnering with Celerion, SNUH and the other clinical trial centres will gain “exposure to our best practices and processes as well as broader involvement in global drug development”, the company said.

For its part, Celerion can now offer clients access to patient populations for early clinical research in oncology, hepatitis C, cardiovascular disease (atherosclerosis and hypertension), diabetes, arthritis, osteoporosis, pain, psychiatric conditions, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Celerion’s partners can provide additional expertise in pharmacogenetics and ethnic bridging studies in Asian populations, the CRO noted.

Global leader

According to Susan Thornton, Celerion’s president and chief executive officer, Seoul National University Hospital is “among the global leaders in the conduct of quality medical research”.

Together, “we are in a solid position to successfully conduct and analyse complex clinical-pharmacology studies involving patients with access to specialised equipment and facilities”, Thornton commented.