QPS, a Newark, Delaware-based contract research organisation (CRO) whose services run from bioanalysis to drug discovery, preclinical and early clinical development, is boosting its presence in the early clinical space by acquiring fellow US CRO and Phase I specialist Bio-Kinetic Clinical Applications for an undisclosed sum.

Under an agreement expected to close on January 1, 2008, Springfield, Missouri-based Bio-Kinetic will retain its name and be incorporated as a wholly owned unit of QPS Holdings. The deal is structured as a merger, with Bio-Kinetic shareholders receiving membership interests in QPS Holdings. Argentum Capital Partners and First Analysis Corp., the private equity firms that led a recapitalisation of Bio-Kinetic in 2005, will become equity holders in QPS, as will Bio-Kinetic's two founders, Dale Bourg and Dave Koenigsfeld.

“We believe this is an ideal combination of two firms with complimentary services and similar best-in-class reputations that together create a leading provider of early-stage drug development services,” said Dan Raynor, managing partner of Argentum, who will join the QPS board of directors.

Founded in 1995 by Dr Ben Chien, QPS specialises in in vivo/in vitro drug metabolism testing, preclinical absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion (ADME) studies, pharmacokinetics, protein binding, whole body autoradiography, molecular biology, immunogenicity testing and biomarker assays. The CRO has three bioanalysis technology platforms: LC/MS/MS for small molecules and polypeptides, ELISA for proteins and vaccines, and hybridization-ELISA for oligonucleotide-based drugs.

Bio-Kinetic was founded in 1994 and since then has expanded its Phase I services from 12 beds at inception to a 240-bed facility in Springfield. Over the past 12 years the company has completed more than 400 Phase I studies, enrolling some 11,000 volunteers.