Merck (NYSE: MRK
) has signed a letter of intent with BGI (formerly the Beijing Genomics Institute) that will "initiate and develop a working relationship," according to the press release. However, citing anonymous sources, Bio-IT World says this innocuous wording greatly understates the depth of the collaboration, which it calls "substantive, wide-ranging and long-term."
Bio-IT World says the agreement is "the most significant partnership announced so far between China's BGI and a major pharmaceutical company." It notes that BGI is working diligently to attract customers to its new next-generation sequencing (NGS) facility in Hong Kong and its bioinformatics center in Shenzhen. The magazine says BGI offers "unparalleled" services.
Merck and BGI said they will use the "massive output of genomic information" to explore areas of mutual interest in healthcare research and discovery. They intend to collaborate on biomarker discovery, target validation and drug development, and they will formulate specific projects.
As part of the agreement, the two companies will establish offices near the other to facilitate their research.
BGI is in discussions with several other big pharma companies, according to Alex Wong, chief of BGI's Hong Kong operation.
Bio-IT World will publish an article later this month on BGI Hong Kong, and that is, presumably, the basis for their inside sources in the company.