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Merck Serono Announces the Creation of Quartz Bio, a Bioinformatics Company Formed Through Its Entrepreneur Partnership Program

Quartz Bio will offer highly specialized services to the pharmaceutical industry in the field of biomarker data analysis

Geneva, Switzerland, September 03, 2012 – Merck Serono, a division of Merck, Darmstadt, Germany, announced today the creation of Quartz Bio, the second spin-off company resulting from its Entrepreneur Partnership Program launched in April 2012. Quartz Bio will offer biomarker data management and exploratory biomarker analysis services for the pharmaceutical industry. Biomarker analysis is a critical step in the drug development process as it enables the identification of patient profiles that are most responsive to a given treatment.

“This second company creation through our Entrepreneur Partnership Program shows the great diversity of activities that can be developed in the field of life sciences. Highly specialized service companies are essential actors of the drug-development process, and they are very complementary to the activities and structures of large pharmaceutical companies.” said François Naef, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Merck Serono S.A. “The launch of Quartz Bio also illustrates the dynamism of Merck Serono employees, and I am convinced that the Geneva regional economic fabric will benefit from it.”

Quartz Bio will be headed by Jérôme Wojcik, a seasoned expert in bioinformatics, and will employ four highly specialized scientists with in-depth understanding of biology and bioinformatics as well as extensive experience in drug-development processes. company will be hosted in the Blue Box offices of FONGIT, a start-up accelerator located in Plan-les-Ouates, Geneva, and supported by the Geneva authorities. Merck Serono intends to use the services provided by Quartz Bio and is planning work orders amounting to around € 2 million for the next two or three years.

“An increasing number of pharmaceutical companies are integrating a stratified medicine approach in their drug development process in order to predict how patients will respond to a specific therapy,” said Jérôme Wojcik, founder and CEO of Quartz Bio. “Biomarker analyses are at the heart of stratified medicine and we believe that Quartz Bio’s flexible and highly specialized services will bring added value to pharmaceutical companies for the development of new drugs.”

Announced in April 2012 in the framework of the efficiency measures being taken by Merck Serono, the Entrepreneur Partnership Program (EPP) is part of a € 30 million commitment to support the creation of spin-off and start-up companies focused on continuing activities and compounds that originated at Merck Serono. This program is aimed at reducing the impact on employment following closure of the Geneva headquarters due to restructuring, and already has resulted in the creation of another company, Prexton Therapeutics, besides the today announced Quartz Bio.

About Merck Serono

Merck Serono is the biopharmaceutical division of Merck KGaA. With headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, Merck Serono offers leading brands in 150 countries to help patients with cancer, multiple sclerosis, infertility, endocrine and metabolic disorders as well as cardiovascular diseases. In the United States and Canada, EMD Serono operates as a separately incorporated subsidiary of Merck Serono.

Merck Serono discovers, develops, manufactures and markets prescription medicines of both chemical and biological origin in specialist indications. We have an enduring commitment to deliver novel therapies in our core focus areas of neurodegenerative diseases, oncology and rheumatology.

About Merck

Merck is a global pharmaceutical and chemical company with total revenues of €10.3 billion in 2011, a history that began in 1668, and a future shaped by more than 40,000 employees in 67 countries. Its success is characterized by innovations from entrepreneurial employees. Merck's operating activities come under the umbrella of Merck KGaA, in which the Merck family holds an approximately 70% interest and free shareholders own the remaining approximately 30%. In 1917 the U.S. subsidiary Merck & Co. was expropriated and has been an independent company ever since.

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Posted: September 2012