Epic Sciences and LabCorp expand global reach with Asia clinical trials deal

Epic CEO Murali Prahalad

Last year, San Diego's Epic Sciences said it would team up with diagnostics luminary LabCorp ($LH) to make its tests available for European clinical trials. Now the companies are expanding their global footprint, extending their collaboration to provide Epic's tools for cancer clinical trials in Asia.

Under the deal, LabCorp's Covance Drug Development arm will process patient samples for circulating tumor cells (CTCs) in Singapore and then send the samples to Epic's clinical lab in San Diego. The agreement builds on a previous relationship between the companies, as last January the pair announced that they would partner to provide Epic's CTC technology for clinical trials in the EU. Epic got its hands on LabCorp's sample-processing facility in Belgium through the deal, allowing the company to work on an intercontinental scale without shelling out extra cash.

Expanding the partnership to Asia helps Epic as it meets growing worldwide demand for its CTC technology, CEO Murali Prahalad said in a statement. The company's tests scout out CTCs in the bloodstream, helping predict a patient's risk for developing cancer and match them to a suitable therapy.

"For Epic's clinical trial partners and customers, we provide significant, actionable information on patient matching, treatment effectiveness and disease progression to streamline clinical trials for new targeted cancer therapies and to develop essential companion diagnostics," Prahalad said.

Epic is no stranger to partnerships, teaming up with biopharma heavyweights such as Genentech, Celgene ($CELG) and Pfizer ($PFE) to expand the reach for its CTC technology. The company is working with 26 pharma companies on clinical trials and counts the National Cancer Institute and the National Institutes of Health as partners.

Meanwhile, Epic is working hard to lock down new funding to fuel its R&D efforts. Last July, the company roped in $30 million in financing to spur development of its CTC tests and fuel clinical studies aimed at FDA approval. The round attracted investors including Roche Venture Fund ($RHHBY), Pfizer Venture Investments and Domain Associates.

- read Epic's statement