Quintiles has announced two initiatives that reflect compelling trends in the current drug development space: outsourcing to China and the need for viable biomarkers to underpin personalised cancer therapy.

The news from China is that the US-based biopharmaceutical services company has opened a business process outsourcing (BPO) and project management centre of excellence in Dalian, following the lead of Quintiles’ existing BPO centre in Bangalore, India.   

As a major city in north-east China with a multilingual workforce, Dalian is ideally suited to serve the Japanese, Chinese and South Korean biopharmaceutical markets, Quintiles noted.

The new office will provide data management, biostatistics, medical writing, pharmacovigilance and post-marketing safety surveillance services, as well as back-office support for administrative functions. It will also back up clinical operations for study sites in north-east China.

Valuable resources

Dalian’s strategic location and talent pool will enable Quintiles to offer clinical services in English, Japanese, Korean and Mandarin, coupled with a cultural understanding of the city’s neighbouring countries, the company said.

These will be valuable resources for both North Asian and global customers looking to expand in the region or to ensure business continuity through resource diversification, it added.

Quintiles’ Bangalore BPO center now has more than 1,000 people supporting global clinical studies.

The latest announcement comes hard on the heels of Quintiles launching its own contract research organisation, Kun Tuo, in China.   

On that occasion, Ling Zhen, general manager, Quintiles China, highlighted the company’s “aggressive” growth plan for China, which included doubling overall staff numbers during 2012.

Quintiles expects staffing at the Dalian centre to grow to 500 over the next several years as services become fully established. Dalian will be the company’s fourth hub office in Greater China, joining existing operations in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong.  

Biomarker venture

The biomarker venture is Oxford Cancer Biomarkers, a company spun out from the University of Oxford with investment from Quintiles, which is the biggest shareholder.

Oxford Cancer Biomarkers will provide oncology consulting services and develop new biomarkers using CancerNav, a proprietary DNA- and protein-based assay technology platform invented by Nick La Thangue, chair of cancer biology at Oxford University.  

La Thangue is a major shareholder in Oxford Cancer Biomakers, alongside the University of Oxford and David Kerr, professor of cancer medicine at the University, who will serve as the new company’s chief medical officer.

“Biomarkers hold great promise to improve trial success rates by identifying patient sub-groups most likely to respond to treatment, increasing the probability of trial success and improving patient safety,” commented Ben Cons, vice president, Quintiles Corporate Development.