Covance Drug Development, which is owned by Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings (LabCorp), has relocated and expanded its early-stage clinical research unit in Dallas from 72 to 100 medical beds as part of LabCorp’s plan to further develop its phase I clinical research.
Located in the same building as the prior phase I unit, the larger facility also includes a patient service center, where potential participants will have the opportunity to learn more about volunteering and participating in early-stage trials. It is the first major project since LabCorp acquired Covance last year.
The upgraded clinical research unit has more than 55,000 square feet of space, which includes a current Good Manufacturing Practice regulations (cGMP) pharmacy, an advanced telemetry system, dedicated ophthalmology procedure rooms and a glucose clamp suite, along with dedicated screening and outpatient visit areas.
Labeled by the company as a “fit-for-purpose” clinical research facility, the new unit also includes three sterile and two non-sterile manufacturing suites, while the telemetry system enables researchers to continuously monitor data. This capability is designed to support improved monitoring of study participants, which includes fast adjustments to treatment regimens, as needed.
“Our new Dallas facility combines advanced medical care with numerous volunteer friendly amenities,” Herman Scholtz, M.D., vice president and general manager of Early Clinical Services at Covance, said in a prepared statement. “We have invested in a highly customized facility designed to facilitate the safety and quality of our studies and to enhance our clients’ and volunteers’ experience.”
Paul Surdez, a company spokesman, said the expansion was done for several reasons. One of those motives was easier patient recruitment in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, which has more than 6 million people and the ability to attract more trials that require larger facilities, plus flexibility in attracting different kinds of early-stage trials. He said a larger unit provides more scheduling flexibility and the ability to run larger cohort trials, which is a competitive advantage driven by geography. Dallas/Fort Worth also is the nation’s fourth-largest metropolitan area, according to the company.
The new LabCorp/Covance patient service center is designed to educate patients about clinical trials and aid in driving foot traffic from healthy individuals who haven’t considered participating in a drug development trial but want more information about it.
“We are excited about the unique opportunity to educate patients about clinical trials and complement our local patient recruitment capabilities through the future LabCorp patient service center,” said Scholtz.
The Dallas clinical research unit also is one of the few phase I facilities to have dedicated ophthalmology procedure rooms where experimental drug and a battery of eye exams are conducted, according to the company. The new research unit also uses a glucose clamp technique, which is a method for quantifying insulin secretion and resistance to measure either how well an individual metabolizes glucose or how sensitive an individual is to insulin. Surdez said both are very labor-intensive and technically demanding differentiators for the Dallas clinical research unit.
In addition to the newly expanded clinical research unit, the Dallas site has a participant database of nearly 21,800 active volunteers and has conducted more than 700 inpatient and outpatient phase I-IV clinical trials working with special populations in categories such as diabetes, healthy elderly, high cholesterol, obesity and postmenopausal women.
LabCorp’s other early clinical testing sites are in Madison, Wis.; Evansville, Ind.; and Daytona Beach, Fla. The company’s oldest facility, located in Leeds, U.K., has been in operation for 35 years.
The Dallas clinic employs about 75 medical and professional staff members, with plans to expand to 120 employees, according to the company.
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