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Illumina, Merck Serono to Develop Universal NGS-based Oncology Dx

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Illumina said today that it is partnering with Merck Serono, the biopharmaceuticals business of Germany's Merck, to develop a universal oncology diagnostic that uses next-generation sequencing.

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.

With Merck Serono, Illumina will develop assays that can detect several genome variants in parallel, to be used in clinical trials. The collaboration includes test development, worldwide regulatory approvals, and global commercialization.

The partnership "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, in a statement.

In parallel, Illumina continues to work with several academic cancer centers to develop standards for NGS-based oncology genomic testing under the Actionable Genome Consortium, which was formed last year.