Building an integrated platform to support Merck's biologics R&D

Photo Credit: sparktography via Compfight cc

As a long-time provider of workflow management software for chemical research, and the established worldwide leader in number of ELN enterprise seats, the past year has been an especially exciting time of research and development at PerkinElmer Informatics as we have collaborated with Merck & Co. Inc. to devise workflow solutions tailored for biologics research.

Over the better part of the last decade, opportunities in biologics have been rapidly expanding as drug discovery researchers have worked to create a new class of drug therapies using large biological molecules as vehicles to deliver anti-disease proteins. These molecules can specifically target certain types of diseases, and can be purified from animal sources or can be gathered from human blood donation. Through a fermentation process very similar to the way beer is produced, these molecules can then be sterilized, bottled and sold as drug therapies used intravenously or through vaccination.

With a worldwide presence as a leader in providing health solutions in over 140 countries, it was during 2009 and 2010 that Merck began to focus on the further development of a biologics R&D program.  

Leader in biologics

Merck was one of the first corporations to take a deep dive into biologics production, and the company embarked on experimenting in biologics drug therapies several years ago. But their experimental data was being captured the old-fashioned way on pen and paper and in Excel spreadsheets, making it difficult for Merck’s scientists to truly capitalize on the wealth of information their research was generating.

It was at that realization that Merck turned to PerkinElmer Informatics. Based on its experience as a long-time satisfied user of our workflow management solutions for their chemical pharmaceutics R&D activities, Merck hoped to build on its existing investment in the PerkinElmer Informatics E-Notebook BioAssay structured results management module to achieve a successful biologics workflow management system.

Merck identified required expansions to the BioAssay program and our team set to work to further develop BioAssay to support structured data, results and sample tracking in biologics R&D. Not only did Merck desire a workflow management program that could organize the complex biologics R&D process, Merck wanted an integrated solution that would allow users to collaborate throughout all workflow stages using search, access and sharing functionalities on a platform that included standard data structure, taxonomy and data models.

Developing an integrated platform

Beginning in 2011, our team started production on the expansion of our BioAssay module that would suit Merck’s needs in biologics R&D. Once a working model of the program was completed and tried true, production pilot deployment testing began in August 2012.

With the pilot deployment successfully completed, our team is now implementing the sample tracking, workflow management solutions, and enhanced biologics functionality for the BioAssay to end users within Merck’s Vaccines Development, Biologics Discovery, Biologics Development and certain In Vivo data management groups.

Merck expects to benefit from this deployment through improved data capture that will use context to allow for sequential and comparative analysis through a product’s life cycle, and through the ability for managers to quickly assess productivity, cycle time and capacity understanding and perform full product life cycle analyses.

Additional reading

Case Study: Collaboration Adds Biologics Capabilities to Ensemble for Biology

Bio-IT World: Merck Finds Commercial Solution in Collaboration