INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.—Covance Inc., a global drug development services company, and the Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (CTSI), part of the Indiana University (IU) School of Medicine, will join forces in early clinical trials for new medicines on behalf of biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies.
"This opportunity evolved through our involvement with Biocrossroads—Deb Keller, group president of our R&D Labs businesses and EVP, Covance, is a board member—as well as our long-time presence and strong track record in Indiana," notes Rob Aspbury, global vice president of clinical pharmacology services at Covance. "The agreement brings together two organizations that share a commitment to high quality and safety in early clinical research and bringing new medicines to patients who need them. By working together and combining capabilities, the two organizations will help to bring more clinical research to Indiana."
The alliance with the Indiana CTSI will help us provide biopharmaceutical clients with quicker access to patients in a hospital setting that supports specialized care and monitoring, adds Aspbury.
"With quicker access to patients, we can streamline the drug development process and bring important new medications to patients who need them," he says. More and more, research sponsors are looking to ways to improve drug development timelines. One way to do this is to develop first-in-human studies with patients as well as healthy volunteers, Aspbury notes.
"While the Covance Evansville Clinic has access to some patient populations, the alliance with the Indiana CTSI, through its clinical research facility at Indiana University Health University Hospital in Indianapolis, will provide access to more diverse therapeutic areas, as well as more specialized monitoring and patient care services, such as imaging and tissue collection," he states. "For example, this means that Covance would be able to conduct one part of a study at its clinical research unit in Evansville with healthy volunteers, while at the same time, have another arm of the study underway with patients at the hospital. This would offer the sponsor potential time and cost savings."
The Indiana CTSI clinical research unit has a dedicated team, which includes a clinical research director and program manager, a clinical trial recruitment team, laboratory scientists for sample processing and 24/7 nursing support. Many IU School of Medicine faculty scientists also work in lab space located in, or adjacent to, the Indiana CTSI's various clinical research facilities. The unit also has access where required to research staff within the hospital. There will be collaboration between the hospital staff and Covance staff as part of their work together.
"For example, Covance staff will be involved in project managing studies, monitoring and providing data management support, etc.," says Aspbury. "Covance also will be able to share our drug development knowledge and expertise, commercial processes and relationships with biopharmaceutical sponsors."
"The Indiana CTSI works every day to support tremendously talented biomedical scientists whose discoveries have the potential to translate into life-saving new therapies and treatments," says Dr. Anantha Shekhar, director of the Indiana CTSI, associate dean of translational research and the Raymond E. Houk Professor of Psychiatry at the IU School of Medicine. "Our mission is to accelerate the rate at which this research travels out of the lab and into the care of the patients who need it. This alliance with Covance will greatly enhance our ability to accomplish this vital work."
The alliance between Covance and the Indiana CTSI was facilitated by BioCrossroads, an organization that advances Indiana's signature strengths in life science by connecting corporations, academic institutions and philanthropic organizations. The Indiana CTSI is a statewide collaboration of Indiana University, Purdue University and the University of Notre Dame.
Covance's operations in the state date back 25 years.
"Indiana is a microcosm of Covance—with clinical development, drug discovery, nutrition chemistry and food safety, health outcomes and central laboratories—and 1,900 employees across our Evansville, Greenfield and Indianapolis sites," Aspbury observes. "We have the broadest range of operations and employ more people in Indiana than in any other of our global locations. All of the work Covance conducts in Indiana benefits the local economy as well as millions of patients around the globe. Our company is very proud to be a member of the Indiana life sciences community."