The move ties in with the shift towards the development of surrogate markers for clinical efficacy, for use both in trials and – if a drug reaches the market – to guide treatment decisions.
Use of biomarkers can shorten the duration of trials, particularly in diseases where the clinical course of a disease can be slow-moving, and provide an early indication if a treatment is having the desired effect.
That is driving rapid uptake, with a recent market research report predicting that the global biomarkers market will reach about $22.7bn by 2012, driven by developments in cardiology, neurology and oncology.
By teaming up with Caprion, Covance will get access to specialist expertise in biomarker discovery, verification, validation and deployment from early-stage to late-stage clinical studies. The outsourcing giant will act as the distributor for Caprion’s services, with biomarkers running under its Central Laboratory Services banner.
“Pharmaceutical companies are adopting biomarker strategies for the vast majority of new drug candidates, and it is predicted that within the next 10 years biomarkers will be a standard aspect of drug development for any novel candidate,” said Covance in a statement.
The development of biomarkers is also a central tenet of the US Food and Drug Administration’s Critical Path Initiative, which holds biomarkers up as “one of the two areas with the greatest impact on modernising drug development and approval.”
New biomarker centre
As part of the deal, Covance will establish a Biomarker Center of Excellence at is Greenfield facility in Indiana, US. It has also hired a new vice president, Dr. Thomas Turi, to lead the biomarker team. Turi joins Covance from Pfizer, where he was senior director of Translational Biomarkers and Mechanistic Biology at Pfizer's laboratories in Groton, Connecticut.
The centre will focus on biomarker discovery, testing and validation, working alongside Covance’s existing in vivo preclinical teams handling safety and efficacy assessment, and preclinical imaging functions.