US-based biopharmaceutical services company Quintiles has extended its Prime Site programme for clinical research in the UK onto a regional scale with the launch of the Peninsula Prime Site in the South West of England.

Until now, the UK arm of Quintiles’ global Prime Site network, which was set up to enhance local infrastructure for clinical studies, involved a single location: Queen Mary, University of London, working in collaboration with Quintiles and Barts and The London National Health Service Trust.

Signed off at the University of Exeter, which served as a conduit to organisations carrying out clinical trials in the South West, the Peninsula Prime Site takes in clinical research facilities and academics at the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry; Devon Partnership NHS Trust; the Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust; Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust; South Devon NHS Healthcare Trust; and Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust.

The aim is to make the South West a force to be reckoned with in global drug development, leveraging the partnership between academia and NHS Trusts to encourage active participation in clinical research by both doctors and patients in the region.

Across borders

With the majority of clinical trials conducted across international borders, experts in the South West will be able to foster relationships with companies and academics outside the region through their clinical research efforts, Quintiles said.

That will bring more trials across a wide range of disease areas to the South West, with ongoing benefits to the regional economy and to health research around the world, the company added.

Teams within the Peninsula Prime Site will also work to give patients and the general public more opportunities to volunteer for clinical trials in the South West.

World class

According to Professor Angela Shore, vice dean for research at the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry, the South West has “excellent” clinical trials facilities that already support “world-class” research.

One of the Peninsula Prime Site partners, Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust, saw its recruitment for research studies more than double from 2,048 patients in 2008/09 to 4,679 in 2010/11.

“Quintiles choosing the Peninsula as one of their prime sites will further increase our ability to attract clinical research, in particular trials for new drug treatments in areas such as cancer research,” commented Dr Simon Rule, the Trust’s associate medical director for research and development.

Professor Shore hailed the partnership as “a productive collaboration which will greatly enhance the capacity, range and quality of clinical trials work carried out in the region, providing wider opportunities for participating institutions and their academics, and members of the public and patients across the South West”.

International network

Quintiles’ Prime Site at Queen Mary, University of London was the first in the company’s international network, which extends across Europe, the US, Africa and the Asia/Pacific region.

Earlier this year, Quintiles invested in a clinical research facility at the Queen Mary site.  

At that time, Lindy Jones, global head of integrated site services, said the company was looking at setting up at least two more Prime Sites in the UK, whose contribution to total patient recruitment by Quintiles worldwide had climbed from 0.7% in 2008 to 2.2% in 2011 so far.