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EMD Serono, Pfizer, Broad Institute to Genomically Profile Lupus Patients

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – EMD Serono announced on Tuesday a research agreement with Pfizer and the Broad Institute to genomically profile systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and lupus nephritis (LN) patients.

As part of the project, being funded jointly by EMD Serono and Pfizer, the Broad will use biochemical and next-generation sequencing technologies to investigate samples from SLE and LN patients, as well as analyze immune cell subpopulations, in order to identify biomarkers to better define patient populations for future therapies.

Through computational approaches, the researchers also aim to identify molecular drivers of SLE and LN kidney flares in the hopes of discovering potential novel drug targets that can serve as the basis of new therapies, EMD Serono said.

EMD Serono and Pfizer will have real-time access to all data and analysis. Each will also be able to send a research scientist to the Broad "to foster [the] exchange of technology expertise" in computational and experimental genomic profiling.

Financial and other terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

"Technical advances now make it possible for us to sequence RNA in very small numbers of cells, enabling us to be more comprehensive in our analysis of cell types and states in lupus patients," Nir Hacohen, associate professor at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, and senior associate member at the Broad, said in a statement. "We will collect millions of unbiased measurements from lupus patients over many time points along with key clinical variables. We will use this dataset to infer active biological pathways in these patients and develop novel dynamic models of lupus pathogenesis."

"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," Harsukh Parmar, head of the Translational Innovation Platform Immunology & Neurodegenerative Diseases at EMD Serono, added. "This is in line with our concept to integrate genomic profiling and system biology approaches throughout our preclinical and clinical programs."