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Plenty of vitality in vaccines
RALEIGH, N.C.—Global contract research organization INC Research Holdings Inc., which provides clinical trial services for Phases 1 to 4, has been busy in the field of vaccines of late. Mid-April saw the company present at the 17th World Vaccine Congress in Washington, D.C., for which it was a Gold Sponsor.
Marty Anderson, executive director of clinical development at INC and global lead for vaccines and antivirals, presented at the World Vaccine Congress on “The Operational and Logistical Challenges in Running a Maternal Immunization Clinical Trial.” Also at the Congress, INC Research was nominated in the “Best Contract Research Organization” category of the Vaccine Industry Excellence Awards.
The company has conducted more than 40 vaccine studies across all development phases since 2011, in diseases such as Ebola, Zika, meningitis, rotavirus, smallpox and influenza, among others. In that time, INC Research reports it has delivered all vaccine clinical trials on time or ahead of schedule.
“We have seen a steady flow of requests for support in continuing the development of flu vaccines over the past few years,” Anderson tells DDNews of the disease focus INC has seen lately in the vaccine field. “However, we’re seeing more interest and inquiries from companies that are on the path for developing universal flu vaccines, addressing the need for a flu vaccine that protects against future seasonal and pandemic strains with an improved quality of response. I also believe that the emerging disease and threats are paving the way too for increased vaccine development—and I'm not talking just about Ebola or Zika that are known in the media. However, because of these outbreaks, they're looking for other similar viruses with the potential for spread and thinking forward and developing vaccines against those so they don't lead to massive outbreaks or could affect our own troops and humanitarians on the ground around the world.”
“I think we’re seeing an increase in vaccine development requests for a few reasons,” she adds. “One, the high prevalence of disease—we're seeing emergence of diseases that were long taken care of with vaccines, and then outbreaks of diseases like Ebola and Zika where you see more urgent requests and a lot of developers launching into that that space quickly. What we've seen is an increase in funding for vaccine development, coming both from the government side and from the commercial side; I think the vaccine industry has grown quite a bit, and I do not see it slowing down any time in the near future.”
A good deal of INC’s work in vaccines has centered on launching and expanding its Vaccine Catalyst Site Network. This effort, which was launched in 2016, consists of an integrated team of experienced sites in the United States, and aims to benefit all stakeholders in vaccine research with the goal of maintaining maximum choice for patients participating in vaccine clinical trials as well as aligning with protocols for vaccine investigative sites. All participating sites have been identified as high-performing in the field of vaccine research and work closely with INC and each other to deliver vaccine studies more rapidly.
“The Vaccine Catalyst Site Network is a whole infrastructure, or ecosystem really, if you want to call it that; it’s more than just CRO-to-site relationships,” Anderson explains. “We’re building an infrastructure to be able to deliver efficiently and innovatively in the clinical trial space for vaccines, where it includes our vendors and our other functional areas so that we can deliver on a 30-day start from final protocol. We have seen increasing interest to find out more about what’s possible and what the Vaccine Catalyst Site Network can offer, and we’re excited about the future of it as it continues to evolve.”
INC Research has also been expanding its staff, having recently announced four new additions to the company’s Real World & Late Phase (RWLP) and Global Consulting offerings. The RWLP team focuses on real-world, evidence-based data collection, and collaborates with the Global Consulting business to support customers at all stages of development. The new appointments include Dr. James Featherstone, senior vice president of strategy consulting; Janet Baldwin, vice president of RWLP, head of North America operations; Nathalie Doize, vice president of RWLP, head of Europe and Asia/Pacific operations; and Alastair MacDonald, executive director of RWLP.