Build it and they will come

Start-up research institute forms strategic alliance with LabCorp Clinical Trials to offer specialized biomarker and assay development services

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KANNAPOLIS, N.C.—The David H. MurdockResearch Institute (DHMRI) has formed a strategic alliance withEsoterix Clinical Trials Services, a division of LaboratoryCorporation of America Holdings (LabCorp), to provide LabCorp'sclients with access to enhanced assay development services. Assaysdeveloped at DHMRI for contracted research will be transferred toLabCorp laboratories worldwide to support global clinical studies.The agreement also provides a mechanism for downstreamcommercialization of companion diagnostics and other biomarker assaysonce clinical validation has been established.
Launched in 2009 after a six-yeardevelopment program engineered by David H. Murdock, the institutedifferentiates itself by stating that DHMRI is a place "whereresearch begins with an idea, not a sample," which is true to theway it was conceived and ultimately launched. Murdock, once broke andhomeless on the streets of Detroit, rose meteorically via a number ofreal estate transactions—which make Warren Buffet's career seemhumdrum—to rank 376th on Forbes Magazine's listof the world's billionaires. When Cannon Mills Plant #1 inKannapolis closed—which resulted in the largest mass layoff inNorth Carolina history—Murdock bought the land, demolished the milland built the 5.8 million square-foot North Carolina Research Campus,of which DHMRI is a part.

"DHMRI was created as a magnet orcatalyst for NCRC," says the institute's CEO, Dr. Michael Luther."The institute bridges the research gap between academics andindustry by providing R&D solutions in a customer-focused, yetcollaborative environment. The DHMRI catalyzes innovation at thepublic-private interface by driving and supporting R&D effortswith partners who are located both on and off campus. We work as anon-traditional CRO providing answers from the bench to proof ofprinciple."

The universities on campus include UNCChapel Hill, UNC Charlotte, UNC Greensboro, North Carolina State andDuke University. Among the affiliated companies are Murdock interestsCastle and Cooke and Dole Foods—and its new partner LabCorp.

In addition to biomarker assaydevelopment, DHMRI provides a broad array of analytical, genomic,immunology and informatics services. The services available toclients through DHMRI include broad biomarker discovery andproof-of-concept assay development to support early- and late-stagedrug discovery and development. The institute uses transdisciplinaryapproaches to provide solutions for customers. Its capabilities andexpertise range from profiling at the genetic, biochemical, cellularand in-vivo levels to clinical immune system monitoring usingmultiparameter flow cytometry and multiplexed protein analysis andquantitative gene expression. With the acquisition of the ImmuneTolerance Institute, DHMRI is now supporting numerous clinical trialsof immunomodulatory approaches with advanced flow cytometry,immunoassay and gene expression methods across a range ofimmune-related diseases.

"With the addition of DHMRI'sdiscovery capabilities, LabCorp offers its clinical trials clientsthe most complete suite of biomarker development tools in theindustry," says Dr. David Johnston, senior vice president andglobal head of clinical trials at LabCorp. "Our collaboration withDHMRI exemplifies our strong commitment to providing cutting-edgeservices to our clients."

LabCorp's core business provides abroad test menu ranging from routine blood analyses to reproductivegenetics to DNA sequencing. The company conducts clinical trialstesting through its Esoterix Clinical Trials Services division.

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