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Merck announces drug discovery collaboration with European Molecular Biology Laboratory

Published on 03/03/16 at 10:18am
The European Molecular Biology Laboratory, Heidelberg

Merck has announced that it has entered into a research collaboration with the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), that will focus on cancer metabolism. The collaboration will aim to ultimately deliver novel therapeutic targets by investigating mechanisms by which cancer cells generate energy and growth-enabling building blocks, as well as biomarkers.

This partnership will see the German pharma company align with one of Europe’s flagship laboratories for the life sciences. Funded by public research monies from its member states, EMBL trains scientists, students and visitors at all levels as well integrating European life science research and driving innovation. Its commercial arm, EMBLEM, will support the collaboration and underpin one of the core missions of EMBL: to foster interaction between academia and industry.

The collaboration will see Merck’s R&D focus and capabilities in early-stage oncology research complemented by EMBL’s innovation and capabilities in the area of metabolomics. The German-based laboratory will apply its expertise in modelling and bioinformatics to uncover metabolic pathways in cancer and shed light on their control mechanisms. Merck also intends to leverage the cutting-edge equipment of its genomics and metabolomics core facilities to resolve the transcriptional and metabolic profiles of the samples for the study.

Kiran Patil, group leader at EMBL, comments: “Together with Merck as an experienced partner in the field of oncology research, we are excited about the opportunity to apply our technologies to advance cancer research and pave the way for future drug development upon the discovery of novel targets.”

Andree Blaukat, head of the translational innovation platform oncology at Merck, says: “We are thrilled to enter into this new collaboration with EMBL. It has become clear that cancer cells engage metabolic pathways to support growth and treatment resistance. Together with EMBL, we have the opportunity to characterise this phenomenon on the molecular level which will be instrumental for the development of novel therapies that target metabolic pathways in cancer.”

This is the latest Merck collaboration to expand its research into novel cancer therapeutics. In January, the company announced a partnership with Biocartis for the development and commercialisation of a new test for patients with metastatic colorectal cancer.

Sean Murray

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