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Nucleai, Merck KGaA Darmstadt Ink Biomarker Discovery Partnership

NEW YORK – Nucleai said on Thursday that it has partnered with Darmstadt, Germany-based Merck KGaA to identify biomarkers of response to several of Merck's clinical oncology assets.

For its part, Tel Aviv-based Nucleai will use its image analysis platform, dubbed ATOM, to further develop pathology-based biomarkers as companion diagnostics with Merck's agents.

The firm's machine-learning platform is designed to analyze tissue images and identify histological biomarkers based on models of the tumor and spatial characteristics of the immune system. The platform is trained on datasets comprising pathology images paired with clinical data, which Nucleai has collected from US- and Israel-based hospitals and health maintenance organizations.

By identifying these histological biomarkers, Nucleai and Merck hope to stratify patients who are likely to respond to treatments in clinical development and in turn improve clinical trial success rates and patient outcomes. The partners did not disclose the specific drugs they will focus on within the deal.

In January, the firm announced a similar collaboration with Swiss drugmaker Debiopharm, which led Nucleai's $6.5 million Series A financing round.