Quintiles gets bigger in cancer with TMD purchase

By Phil Taylor

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Drug development process Oncology Cancer

Quintiles Transnational has boosted its array of services for companies developing cancer drugs via the purchase of Illinois, US-based firm Targeted Molecular Diagnostics.

TMD creates and develops novel, validated biomarker assays to used in the discovery of new drug targets, as well as the preclinical and clinical development of new therapeutics, with a particular focus on oncology diagnostics. The terms of the acquisition have not been disclosed.

The company’s portfolio of biomarker services are well suited to the emerging trend in cancer drug development, which sees drugs increasingly targeting highly-selective molecular targets. Effective use of biomarkers can increase customers’ understanding of how their drugs work, and also shorten the drug development process by allowing some studies to be run using surrogate marker endpoints rather than clinical measures.

By boosting its presence in cancer Quintiles is also aligning itself with the fastest-growing sector of the world pharmaceutical market. Figures published by market data company IMS earlier this year predict that global sales of cancer drugs are growing at a compounded annual rate of 12 to 15 per cent, and should reach $75bn to $80bn by 2012.

Tissue pathology

Quintiles said it was particularly interested in TMD’s expertise in tissue-based testing, including immunohistochemistry and follicular in situ hybridisation (FISH) services, which look at protein and gene activity in tissue samples.

Tissue-based testing is “a critical component of the modern oncology drug development process​,” said Quintiles.

This acquisition is a logical addition to Quintiles’ service offerings​,” commented Tom Wollman, senior vice president, Quintiles Global Central Laboratories. “It provides us with advanced in-house pathology capabilities, including telepathology​.”

TMD’s automated IHC systems can handle more than 400 IHC slides every day, while its technicians can manually process over 100 FISH slides per day. The company also offers clinical services including pre-screening of patients for inclusion into studies, development and monitoring of surrogate efficiency assays, pharmacodiagnostic assays, treatment failure analysis, tumour marker surveys and drug synergy studies.

It has also built up an intellectual property position in KRAS testing, which can be used to identify colorectal cancer patients who may be resistant to epidermal growth factor (EGF) receptor-targeted monoclonal antibody therapies such as ImClone Systems and Merck KGaA’s Erbitux (cetuximab) and Amgen’s Vectibix (panitumumab).

TMD’s president and CEO Dr. Sarah Bacus, who founded the company back in 2004, said that becoming part of Quintiles would provide a real boost to the business.

The combination of our expertise in oncology combined with Quintiles’ global reach will provide customers with exceptional service delivery​,” she commented.

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