Synexus, the UK-based patient recruitment and clinical trial management business acquired last December by private equity firm Lyceum Capital, plans to more than double its existing clinical trial capacity in South Africa by expanding its facilities in Pretoria and opening two purpose-designed sites in Mamelodi and Soshanguwe respectively.

The hope is that the new sites will be completed by March 2009. Arrangements for the clinics in Mamelodi and Soshanguwe are being negotiated with the local authorities. The Pretoria site will expand into the adjoining building, which will be converted into a full 562 sq m clinical trial unit (CTU) for outpatients. The existing building incorporates a36-bed Phase I and Phase IIa trial facility.

Synexus entered the South Africa market in October 2006 when it acquired Clinical Research Centres SA, a site and trial management organisation originally established in 2000 and based in Pretoria. The UK company’s CTUs and affiliated sites in South Africa cover a wide range of therapeutic areas across Phases II and III, including paediatric vaccines, osteoporosis, women’s health and post-operative pain.

According to Michael Fort, chief executive officer of Synexus, South Africa “has proven to be one of our most successful sites both in terms of achieving high numbers of patients and in the quality of the trials carried out. We will continue to expand our presence in South Africa”.

Staff numbers in Synexus’ South African operation are set to rise from 10 clinically trained professionals to more than 25 once the expansion is complete. The business has already managed to lift its turnover by more than 60% since 2006, “as being part of a global clinical trials organisation has given us the opportunity to be involved in many more global studies”, noted country manager Dr Sanet Aspinall.