Quotient Bioresearch, the drug development services arm of the UK-based Quotient Bioscience group, has continued on its acquisition trail, taking over an early-stage clinical research facility in Edinburgh, Scotland from Charles River Laboratories.

No financial terms were disclosed for the acquisition, the sixth by Quotient Bioscience since its formation less than three years ago. The deal puts Paul Cowan, chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) of Quotient, back in control of some of the assets sold to Charles River with Inveresk in 2004, in what turned out to be a short-lived and unsuccessful detour by the US CRO into fully fledged clinical research services.

Before founding Quotient, Cowan was chief financial officer of Inveresk Research Group. He left Inveresk in 2004 following its sale to Charles River Laboratories in July of that year. More recently Charles River, which hived off its Phase II-IV clinical operations to Kendle International for US$215 million in 2006, has seen revenues in its Preclinical Services business come under pressure from slower market demand and unfavourable exchange rates.

Quotient will combine the Edinburgh facility, formerly known as Inveresk Clinical Research, with Pharmaceutical Profiles – the Nottingham-based provider of specialist Phase I drug development services acquired by Quotient Bioscience last December – to form a new strategic business unit, Quotient Clinical. Heading up the unit will be Mark Egerton, former CEO of Pharmaceutical Profiles.

Quotient Clinical will have a total workforce of around 160 medical, scientific and clinical staff spread across two facilities in Edinburgh and Nottingham. “With an existing strong customer base in the United States, Europe and Japan, the principal focus of Quotient Clinical is to provide a unique and comprehensive range of early development services to a broad range of pharmaceutical and biotechnology customers,” its new parent commented.

The combination of Pharmaceutical Profiles with the Inveresk Research facility will create a suite of integrated services extending from First-in-Human (FIH) through to Phase 2a clinical studies, Quotient noted. It described the Edinburgh facility, set up nearly 20 years ago, as “an industry leader” in FIH trials.

The former Charles River unit was awarded Supplementary Accreditation status by the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency in January 2009, testifying to its experience and capabilities in conducting FIH trials for small molecules and biologics.

“We will continue to build on the innovative approaches we developed at Pharmaceutical Profiles to increase the effectiveness of early development processes,” Egerton said. “Combined with the Phase I/2a expertise of the Charles River Edinburgh clinical unit, our approach to integrating flexible drug product manufacture into clinical trials will enable us to deliver significant benefits to our customers.”