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Synergy among neighbors
RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C.—Quintiles' recent acquisition of Expression Analysis Inc. (EA), a provider of genomics testing and analysis to biopharma, academic, government and nonprofit customers, is being described by both parties and their customers as a "win-win-win situation."
"We were looking for excellence in the genomic space and bioinformatics, as well as R&D capability, and EA played into that well, being a profitable, flexible company with a strong management team," says Thomas Wollman, senior vice president of Quintiles Global Laboratories, which was founded in 1982. "The addition of EA's Genomic Know-How to Quintiles is another step forward in our efforts to bring personalized medicine into mainstream drug development. EA's expertise in genetic sequencing and advanced bioinformatics is essential to understanding diseases and drugs at the molecular level. That's a huge step in creating more value across the healthcare spectrum."
A fully integrated biopharmaceutical services company offering clinical, commercial, consulting and capital solutions worldwide, Quintiles Global Laboratories is attempting to help its customers leverage the power of genomics to better understand diseases, develop diagnostic tools and deliver safer, more effective therapies based on the genetic makeup of the disease and the patient. Quintiles Global Laboratories supports trials worldwide with wholly owned facilities in the United States, Europe, South Africa, India, China, Singapore and Japan, and a tightly coordinated network of affiliate laboratories in Argentina and Brazil. All Quintiles laboratories operate with uniform instrumentation and standard operating procedures. The company helps biopharmaceutical companies develop and commercialize products to improve and lengthen patients' lives while demonstrating value to stakeholders.
Interestingly, Quintiles, which has 25,000 professionals in 60 countries, didn't have to look far to make the acquisition. EA, which has about 77 employees, has offices based three miles away from Quintiles. Offering a broad range of services across multiple platforms, EA provides whole-genome to focused-set gene expression and genotyping assays, along with next-generation sequencing services, sequence enrichment technologies and bioinformatics support.
"The whole process is a dream come true for us," says Steve McPhail, EA's president and CEO. "This is the right move for our customers, vendors and employees. Our mission perfectly fits Quintiles' strategy to use genomic data and advanced informatics to yield actionable insights and more effective personalized treatments. The combination will facilitate worldwide access to resources and expertise to drive improvements in the diagnosis, treatment and management of complex disease by moving genomic testing into clinical trials. EA can now play a global role in helping biopharma succeed in the New Health. We're seeing our vision become a reality."
According to Jeffrey Spaeder, Quintiles' chief medical and scientific officer and a cardiologist by training, the acquisition of EA, one of many recent buys for Quintiles, fits into the company's strategy to address personalized medicine. As he explains, "there has been a change in the risk tolerance of regulators, payors and patients. Now we have to maximize the efficacy and safety of clinical trials while also targeting patients in a way where the therapy will show value."
Describing these needs as "the new normal," Spaeder says that clinical studies need to address "the regulatory pathway and what payers are concerned about in treating a particular population" and "make sure we demonstrate that a given therapy has value to payers." Specifically, that requires knowledge about molecular and cellular pathways and interactions between them to understand why therapies work on certain patients, but not others, a method to translate that understanding into a way to stratify patients globally and an application to incorporate metrics into clinical studies.
Spaeder believes that molecular and cellular pathways are quantifiable, but how to tap into patients is another component of personalized medicine. Quintiles will be looking at how to share, reduce and mitigate risks for end users by "showing what patients a drug is useful for," how to identify those patients, "how to deliver the most bang for the buck" and how to get the greatest value.
"EA, with its emphasis on genomics, will help us to stratify patients in the future," Spaeder concludes. "That will be especially significant for oncology, autoimmune and infectious diseases."