US-based contract research organisation PPD has expanded its existing strategic alliance with VirtualScopics, a company that provides imaging solutions to accelerate drug and medical device development, to include multiple therapeutic areas worldwide.

The alliance was originally announced in October 2010 and involved integrating VirtualScopics’ algorithm-based approach to image analysis and biomarker measurement with PPD’s clinical development offerings, medical expertise and global footprint.

The initial focus was on oncology drug development. Medical imaging “has played a large role in deciding whether to advance oncology compounds, particularly as pharmaceutical companies and service providers faced immediate challenges in managing studies with increasing complexity and reduced timelines”, the partners noted.

At the time, the companies said the aim was to provide more efficient tailored services addressing key elements of the clinical trial process, such as study start-up, patient screening and enrolment, determining endpoints for radiographic response and progression,  imaging data management, and proactive risk management.

Benefits achieved

As a measure of the benefits achieved through pooling these resources, PPD and VirtualScopics have now broadened their alliance to accommodate clinical trials in oncology, central nervous system conditions, cardiovascular diseases and general medicine, as well as medical device studies.

Jeff Markin, president and chief executive officer of VirtualScopics, said the decision to expand the relationship was “a very visible milestone in our partnership with PPD”.

Sponsors across the industry had become “accustomed to the complexities and inefficiencies of managing the broader clinical aspects and medical imaging components of clinical trials separately”, Markin noted.

The PPD-VirtualScopics alliance had shown that there were “very clear and quantifiable” benefits in integrating these activities seamlessly, he added.

“For example, a sponsor's overall study can now be managed through one point of contact, resulting in reduced oversight by the sponsor and, through process and IT [information technology] integration, reduced study cost.”

Critical role

According to Paul Colvin, executive vice president of global clinical development at PPD, medical imaging now plays a “critical role” in advancing drug development.