Merck Serono and Illumina in Oncology Diagnostics Pact

11.03.2015 -

Merck Serono, the biopharmaceutical business of Germany's Merck KGaA, and US biotechnology company Illumina, based at San Diego, California, plan to collaborate on expanding the development of a universal next-generation sequencing-based oncology diagnostic for clinical trials of targeted cancer therapies.

Under the terms of the agreement, Merck Serono and Illlumina will work together to develop assays that detect and simultaneously measure multiple genetic variants in a single tumor sample in a clinical trial setting.

Illumina's successful regulatory track record was an important consideration in the collaboration, the Merck offshoot said, as next-generation sequencing platforms cleared by a regulatory agency could accelerate the development of an assay and facilitate the registration of a companion diagnostic.

Susan Herbert, head of global business development at Merck Serono, said the collaboration will strengthen the position of the company as a global leader in precision medicine in oncology."

"This agreement is another step forward in realizing the promise of precision medicine," added Richard Klausner, Illumina's chief medical officer. He pointed to a "clear need to expand genetically-based clinical trials as a key approach for developing better treatments for cancer."

The collaboration complements Merck Serono's existing partnerships in the area of diagnostics, including Life Technologies and Dako, which the company said allows it to choose from a wide variety of technologies in implementing a precision medicine strategy.