The advent of DNA-sequencing methodology used to sequence the human genome—combined with advances in microarray technology, powerful computing hardware and software, and high-throughput analysis of biomolecules—has made it practical to initiate studies that may help us understand which genetic determinants cause or contribute to a disease or drug response.
Merck scientists have a strong commitment to understanding how genes work and how they are linked to diseases and drug treatments. For example, our scientists identified two genes in mice that could someday be targets for obesity-prevention drugs.1 Finding genetic signatures that can be influenced with drugs is very complex because, in addition to environmental and behavioral factors, many genes may contribute to each individual's obesity.
We collect genetic samples in Merck clinical trials and analyze data from such trials so we can apply new technologies to improve the development of new medicines and vaccines. The collection of samples represents the critical foundation of all clinical genetic research strategies. We obtain appropriate subject consent for use of the genetic samples in accordance with the ethical principles that have their origin in the Declaration of Helsinki, U.S. FDA requirements (21 CFR 50.20, 50.25 and 50.27), the International Conference on Harmonization (ICH) E6 Good Clinical Practices guidelines, and the 1997 UNESCO Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights.
1Xia Yang. Validation of candidate causal genes for obesity that affect shared metabolic pathways and networks. Nature Genetics 2009 (41); 415-423