Merck Serono and Illumina enter collaboration for diagnostics in oncology

Will develop assays that detect and measure multiple genetic variants in a single tumour sample to support clinical trials

Sue Herbert, Head of Global Business Development at Merck Serono, says working with Illumina will enable Merck Serono to perform genome studies at a pace unheard of a few years ago

Merck Serono, the biopharmaceutical business of Merck KgaA of Darmstadt, Germany, is to collaborate with Illumina, a US company that specialises in sequencing and genomics, to expand the development of a universal next-generation sequencing-based oncology diagnostic.

In addition to separate existing collaborations with AstraZeneca, Janssen Biotech and Sanofi, Illumina will work with Merck Serono to develop assays that detect and measure multiple genetic variants in a single tumour sample to support clinical trials.

'Our collaboration with Illumina around next-generation sequencing will enable us to perform genome studies at a pace unheard of a few years ago, and could lead to the development of several diagnostics,' said Susan Herbert, Head of Global Business Development at Merck Serono.

'This collaboration will strengthen the position of Merck Serono as a global leader in precision medicine in oncology.'

The collaboration will include development of the diagnostic, worldwide regulatory approvals, and global commercialisation.

Richard Klausner, Chief Medical Officer at Illumina said this agreement is another step forward in realising the promise of precision medicine.

'There is a clear need to expand genetically-based clinical trials as a key approach for developing better treatments for cancer,' he said.

This collaboration expands Merck Serono’s diagnostics partnerships with Life Technologies and Dako, allowing Merck Serono to choose from a variety of technologies in implementing a precision medicine strategy.

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