Pharmaron, the US-based contract research organisation (CRO) with a strong presence in China, has formed a strategic partnership with Merck Serono (Merck KGaA) under which the latter’s new China R&D Laboratory has opened on Pharmaron’s drug discovery services campus in the Beijing Economic and Technological Development Area (BDA).

The R&D laboratory will focus on clinical bioanalysis and biomarker characterisation, geared to identifying gene mutations among the Chinese population, early detection of disease processes and development of personalised medicines for cancer and neurodegenerative diseases.

Pharmaron recently completed the first phase of its Beijing campus, which occupies more than 600,000 sq ft of space in the BDA and houses a drug-discovery services area including chemistry, drug metabolism and pharmacokinetics, biology, pharmacology and Good Laboratory Practice (GLP)-standard bioanalysis.

“We have always envisioned building a new R&D campus and inviting the world’s top scientists to collaborate with Pharmaron,” said chairman and chief executive officer Dr. Boliang Lou.

“Through this unique partnership, we are providing Merck Serono with a favourable environment as well as qualified staff to lead their drug development programmes for local and regional clinical trials against local diseases and unmet medical needs,” he added.

Pharmaron consolidated its Chinese presence in January 2010 by acquiring preclinical specialist Bridge Laboratories China. As Pharmaron noted at the time, Bridge Laboratories was the first CRO in China to offer preclinical toxicology services up to western-level GLP standard.