EMD Serono, a subsidiary of Merck KGaA, has signed a research agreement with Pfizer and the Broad Institute in Cambridge, MA focused on the genomic profiling of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) and Lupus Nephritis (LN) patients. EMD Serono and Pfizer will jointly fund the research project.
The Broad Institute will study clinical samples from SLE and LN patients, applying biochemical and next-generation sequencing technologies, to identify biomarkers to better define target patient populations for future therapies. Additionally, through computational modeling approaches, the project aims to identify key molecular drivers of SLE and LN kidney flares, as part of an effort to discover potential novel drug targets and therapies.
EMD Serono and Pfizer will receive real-time access to all data and analysis, and will have the ability to send a research scientist to the Broad Institute to foster exchange of technology expertise in the area of computational and experimental genomic profiling.
"The research group of Prof. Nir Hacohen from the Broad Institute is a pioneer in the field of systems immunology and has developed a unique strategy to dissect Lupus and Lupus Nephritis," said Harsukh Parmar, head of the Translational Innovation Platform Immunology & Neurodegenerative Diseases at EMD Serono. "Combined with the Broad Institute's technical know-how, we see this collaboration aiming for a significant contribution to potential future innovative treatments of Lupus and Lupus Nephritis. This is in line with our concept to integrate genomic profiling and system biology approaches throughout our preclinical and clinical programs."
"We are pleased to collaborate with EMD Serono and the Broad Institute on research designed to enhance our understanding of the molecular and cellular underpinnings of Lupus," said Johan Lund, senior vice president and chief scientific officer of Immunoscience at Pfizer. "This collaboration builds on Pfizer's patient-centric and precision medicine-based approach to autoimmune disease research, applying cutting edge technologies and a wealth of patient level data with a goal of advancing our understanding of disease in order to develop innovative therapies."