Quintiles has added another layer to its capabilities in optimising drug development and driving the trend towards personalised medicine by acquiring Expression Analysis (EA), a US-based provider of genomics testing and analysis services to pharmaceutical, biotechnology, academic, government and non-profit customers.

No terms were disclosed for the transaction, which will see EA’s genomics technology and expertise combined with those of the Quintiles Global Laboratories business. EA has some 77 employees, most of them based at the company’s offices near Research Triangle Park in North Carolina.

Set up in August 2001 as a commercial spin-off of the Microarray Core Facility at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina, EA’s initial focus was on providing high-quality, high-throughput micro-array testing services through a single platform.  

Today the business offers a broad range of services across multiple platforms, including whole genome to focused-set gene expression and genotyping assays, next-generation sequencing services, sequence enrichment technologies, and bioinformatics support.

Into the mainstream

Thomas Wollman, senior vice president, Quintiles Global Laboratories, said the acquisition of EA was another advance in the US-based biopharmaceutical services provider’s efforts to bring personalised medicine into mainstream drug development.  

“Its expertise in genetic sequencing and advanced bioinformatics is essential to understanding diseases and drugs at the molecular level,” Wollman commented. “That’s a huge step in creating more value across the healthcare spectrum.”

According to Steve McPhail, president and chief executive officer of Expression Analysis, the deal is “the right move for our company and our employees. Our mission perfectly fits Quintiles’ strategy to use genomic data and advanced informatics to yield actionable insights and more effective personalised treatments”.

Existing capabilities

Quintiles previous forays into the personalised medicine space have included investing earlier this year in Oxford Cancer Biomarkers, a company spun out from the University of Oxford to develop new biomarkers using CancerNav, a proprietary DNA- and protein-based assay technology.  

The US company had already acquired an oncology biomarker specialist, Targeted Molecular Diagnostics, in December 2008.

In November 2010, Quintiles formed a non-exclusive strategic alliance with London Genetics, a not-for-profit company set up with funding from the UK’s London Development Agency. The aim was to offer the biopharmaceutical industry innovative pharmacogenetics solutions to advance the cause of personalised medicine.