GERMANY – BioMed X, a German independent research institute has announced the successful completion of the DNA Damage in Cancer (DDC) research project in collaboration with Merck.

Merck has extended the collaboration for a new oncology research project as a result of the project’s successful completion.

The extension emphasizes the two partners’ strong relationship and reflects BioMed X’s expertise in biomedical innovation.

Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, sponsored the DDC project, which began in 2016. Team DDC, led by Dr. Balca Mardin, used cancer genomics, genetic screening approaches, and in vitro studies to dissect synthetic lethality mechanisms of DNA repair in human cells, which could lead to the development of novel radio- and chemotherapy-based combination therapies.

The team created CRISPR-Cas9-based assays to aid in drug discovery research. They discovered new potential drug target genes that will be investigated further in pre-clinical studies at Merck, and published five scientific articles in major peer-reviewed journals.

We wanted to understand the sensitivity or resistance of tumors to various treatment regimens and how inducing defects in the DNA repair machinery can be used to selectively target tumors”, Dr Balca Mardin, Group Leader of Team DDC, said.

I am now looking forward to consolidating our research findings at Merck,” the team leader added.

Dr. Özdemirhan Serçin, a postdoctoral researcher in team DDC, leads the new project team “Synthetic Lethality in DNA Repair” (SDR).

The term “synthetic lethality” refers to a genetic combination of mutations in two or more genes that results in cell death.

The group’s goal is to develop new synthetic lethal interactions between DNA repair genes that will lead to new therapeutic targets in oncology.

Team SDR will strive to identify and characterize new drug targets in DNA repair and replication as a potent tool to increase the efficiency of clinically used DNA damaging agents by performing targeted pooled screens in cells deficient in DNA repair genes.

Dr Özdemirhan Serçin, Group Leader of Team SDR commented: “It is an excellent opportunity to become a group leader at the BioMed X Institute. Our project has the potential to provide us with new insights about personalizing cancer therapy for the benefit of patients.”

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