Merck's Rosetta stone

Four papers published in Nature Genetics, NatureandPublic Library of Sciences Biology provide a compelling proof of concept for the use of integrative genomic analysis to drive the discovery of genes underlying complex diseases such as obesity and other metabolic disorders. Genomics companies told SciBX that the approach described in these papers had been considered technically unfeasible, but now its application could significantly accelerate marker and target discovery.

Indeed, the integrative approach reported in the papers, which was developed by Merck & Co. Inc. subsidiary Rosetta Inpharmatics LLC, is already shaping the pharma company's drug discovery efforts.

Genome mining for new therapeutic targets often focuses either on genotype mapping or gene expression analysis. Due to the volume and complexity of information in genome-wide data sets, researchers have had only limited success at integrating these different levels of genomic information.

By contrast, the new studies paint the clearest picture yet of how the many facets of genomic structure and regulation fit together to influence disease.1

Three of the studies were from combined industry and academic teams led by Eric Schadt, executive scientific director of genetics at Rosetta, whereas the fourth study was co-led by Kari Stefansson, CEO of

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