Privately held PRA International is in the midst of an “auction” and could be sold in the next few weeks, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The life science services firm known as a contract research organization would be the second regional firm sold this fall. Wilmington-based Pharmaceutical Product Development (Nasdaq: PPDI) agreed to a $3.9 billion deal on Monday with two private equity firms. (Read details here.)

PRA ‘s “expected to fetch more than $1 billion,” the newspaper said, citing unnamed sources “familiar with the matter.” The paper noted that a PRA spokesperson declined comment about the story.

The Journal first reported in July that both CROs were on the market.

PRA is owned by Genstar Capital.

North Carolina, and especially the Triangle, has become a hub for CROs as well as other life science services related firms.

Quintiles, which is based in Research Triangle park, is the world’s largest life science services firm. The company recently closed on $2.2 billion in new financing. While much of that money was to refinance existing debt, Quintiles said some $500 million had been set aside for other purposes.

Raleigh is also home to INC Research. It is owned by Avista Capital Partners and Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan. The private equity firm and the retirement plan bought INC last August for $600 million.

FHI, which also is based in the Triangle, recently changed its name to FHI 360 after acquiring Washington, D.C.-based AED.

PRA moved to Raleigh from Virginia in 2007.

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