Merck Serono Partners with Illumina to Develop a University NGS-Based Oncology Diagnostic

Illumina announced that it is partnering with Merck Serono to develop a universal oncology diagnostic that uses next-generation sequencing (NGS).

The companies will collaborate to develop a universal NGS-based oncology diagnostic for clinical trials of targeted cancer therapies, with the goal of a more comprehensive tool for precision medicine. The collaboration adds to a similar agreement Illumina struck with AstraZeneca, Janssen Biotech and Sanofi last year to develop a universal test system for clinical trials of targeted cancer therapies.

Illumina said that it is working with Merck Serono to develop assays that detect and measure multiple variants simultaneously to support clinical trials. The collaboration toward the universal cancer test will include test development, worldwide regulatory approvals and global commercialization. In parallel, Illumina continues to work with Actionable Genome Consortium’s key thought leaders to set standards for NGS-based assays in routine clinical oncology practice, as well as to define regulatory frameworks for this new testing paradigm.

“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 value of the collaboration was not disclosed.

Last year, Illumina articulated four objectives in its effort toward a Universal Oncology Test System. These include standardize: enable standardization of a multiplexed platform for evaluating relevant genes; streamline: optimize the introduction of new biomarkers by using a standardized system; decentralize: deliver a universal platform for decentralized routine testing, enabling rapid commercial access; and collaborate: facilitate combination trials within and across pharmaceutical companies.

“This agreement is another step forward in realizing the promise of precision medicine,” said Richard Klausner, MD, Illumina’s Chief Medical Officer. “The US government’s Precision Medicine Initiative, recently announced by President Obama, specifically outlines the need to expand genetically-based clinical trials as a key approach for developing better treatments for cancer. We are very excited to work with Merck Serono on this endeavor.”

Source: Illumina

Last updated: 3/10/15; 2:40pm EST

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