The goal of the collaboration is to find diagnostic approaches for disease monitoring and hone patient recruitment for future clinical studies, a spokeswoman from EMD Serono told Outsourcing-Pharma.com.
The project, jointly funded by EMD Serono and Pfizer, will investigate Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) and Lupus Nephritis (LN). SLE is a systemic autoimmune disease which can lead to LN, an inflammation of the kidney. SLE affects the kidneys, skin, nervous system, and joints.
The Broad institute will apply biochemical sequencing to clinical samples from SLE and LN patients, collected through Broad's network of clinician partners, said EMD Serono spokeswoman Lisa Buffington.
Immune cell subpopulations in the samples will be analysed at the Broad Institute’s facility and the genomic data generated will be worked up both by Broad and independently by EMD Serono and Pfizer, she said.
The objective is to identify which molecules drive SLE and LN kidney flares, helping scientists tailor new drugs.
The research also aims to identify biomarkers which will allow drug makers to target specific patient populations for future therapies.
As sponsors, EMD Serono and Pfizer will receive real-time access to all data and analysis, Buffington told Outsourcing-Pharma.com.
“EMD Serono and Pfizer are providing the financial support for this research program. The computational modelling will be done by the Broad Institute, but we will have access to all raw data and we will also do some of our own analysis.”
Both companies have the option to send a research scientist to the Broad Institute to exchange expertise in computational and experimental genomic profiling.
The Broad Institute is a not-for-profit biomedical and genomic research centre in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with affiliations to Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
In 2011 it worked with preclinical contract research organisation (CRO) Covance , providing genomic samples for Covance to use in a then-novel research model profiling microRNA expression in tissue samples.