Merck Serono's US affiliate EMD Serono has signed a research agreement with Pfizer and the Broad Institute focussing on the genomic profiling of patients with the autoimmune disorder Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) and Lupus Nephritis (LN; kidney inflammation).

The project, which will be jointly funded by Merck Serono and Pfizer, aims to identify biomarkers to better define target patient populations for future therapies.

As such, under the collaboration the Broad Institute will investigate clinical samples obtained from SLE and LN patients, applying biochemical and next-generation sequencing technologies.

The drugmakers, as sponsoring members, will receive real-time access to all data and analysis. 

"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," said Harsukh Parmar, Head of the Translational Innovation Platform Immunology & Neurodegenerative Diseases at Merck Serono.

Earlier this week, Merck announced the formation of the global Oncology Partnership and Education Network (OPEN), bringing together a multidisciplinary group of stakeholders involved with the management of cancer to help improve patient care. 

Focusing on metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) as its first priority, OPEN aims to reinforce the important role biomarker testing has in personalising care in mCRC, the firm said.