Almac has offered its experience, particularly with array technology, to pharma partners in the past, but the new program represents a single, comprehensive package specifically for pre-clinical drug development.
The new chip, based on Affymetrix's GeneChip platform, is intended for use in studies where cross-disease compatibility is important, an attribute that Almac calls a "notable advantage" for its pharmaceutical customers.
After missing the first-to-market opportunities with KRAS, both Merck KGaA and Amgen are strategically looking into additional gene markers, with the likely aim of being able to launch companion tests to their drugs that are more sensitive and accurate than the competition.
The deal is the latest in a string of agreements that have paired the Disease Specific Array maker with major pharmaceutical companies to develop biomarkers that can later be used in companion diagnostics.
Citing ongoing demand from the pharmaceutical industry and biotech firms, an Almac Diagnostics executive said that the company plans to expand its bioinformatics team next year beyond its current headcount of 20 staffers.