Celerion stretches into South Korea for translational studies

Early-phase CRO Celerion is expanding its reach into South Korea, partnering up with a local hospital to run trials in the country's fast-growing market for clinical research.

Through a deal with the Seoul National University Hospital, Celerion will open up an office in the facility's dedicated clinical trials center, giving it access to an 80-bed research unit focused on pharmacology, oncology and pediatrics, the company said. The hospital's trial segment specializes in translational medicine, making it an ideal partner for Celerion and its discovery-minded business model, CEO Susan Thornton said.

"They are a highly respected institution and among the global leaders in the conduct of quality medical research," Thornton said in a statement. "Collectively, we are in a solid position to successfully conduct and analyze complex clinical pharmacology studies involving patients with access to specialized equipment and facilities."

Meanwhile, thanks to government investment and a burgeoning local ecosystem, South Korea is becoming an in-demand location for clinical trials. In an effort to foster drug development activity, the country launched the Korea National Enterprise for Clinical Trials, an organization designed to lure studies through partnerships with the likes of Quintiles ($Q), Icon ($ICLR), Abbott Laboratories ($ABT) and Pfizer ($PFE).

For the Nebraska-headquartered Celerion, the Asian entré follows a June expansion in Ireland, where the CRO conducts biologics and vaccine development. And the company is looking to cash in on the boom in demand for biosimilar services, signing a deal with contractor Ricerca Biosciences to team up on biologics knockoffs.

- read the statement