Drug giant Merck, biotech giant BGI team up to discover biomarkers

BGI will take all that sequencing power it possesses as the world's largest genomics center--the same power that helped crack the German E. coli case--and put it together with Merck ($MRK), one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world, to discover and develop new biomarkers and genomic technology.

The two giants don't say, specifically, what kinds of biomarkers they will be looking for, but a release says they will "work closely together to identify and characterize biomarkers with an emphasis on drug discovery, drug development and diagnostics applications across a wide range of therapeutic areas."

"This strategic collaboration combines BGI's genomic sequencing and analytic capabilities with Merck's expertise and experience in drug development," Merck VP Jeffrey Chodakewitz said in a statement. "By working together we hope to apply BGI's comprehensive next-gen sequencing solutions to develop important new tools to aid drug development and enable effective tailoring of medicines to those patients most likely to respond."

Both Merck and BGI will propose projects, with the other providing expertise, samples and research material. Merck has identified biomarkers as a solution to soaring R&D costs. Biomarkers are "biological signposts" that help identify drug failures sooner in the development process.

- read the release from BGI and Merck
- and download a PDF outlining Merck's biomarker strategy