The bioinformatics startup Culmination Bio had received financial backing from Merck’s venture arm. Now, the Utah-based company is collaborating directly with the pharmaceutical giant on an autoimmune disease research project. According to Culmination Bio‘s CEO Dr. Lincoln Nadauld, the collaboration highlights the value of the startup’s ability to provide rapid access to high-quality longitudinal patient data.
Scalability at the heart of the Culmination Bio–Merck pact
“The biggest impact will be the ability to access entire study cohorts in one location, where both a biospecimen and associated de-identified data can be obtained at scale,” Dr. Nadauld said. “The enhancement that Culmination provides is consistency, both in the quality and quantity of biological material and relevant data.”
Nadauld notes that Culmination data has contributed to numerous novel discoveries. “For example, in the past year, our data has contributed to discoveries in migraine headaches, fatty liver disease, cancer, and nervous system disorders,” he said. “Some of these have already been published. We suspect Merck and others using these data would have similarly successful results in their own research.”
Scalability across large patient datasets, and in many disease areas, is attractive to Merck and the industry, according to Dr. Nadauld. “Historically, an asset with decades of multi-modal, de-identified patient journeys has not been available. Instead, data have typically been sourced via dozens of unique sites with disparate data elements and no linked biospecimen or infrastructure. Culmination’s asset solves that problem.”
Access to retrospective and prospective data
Under the collaboration, Merck will access clinical (EHRs, labs, medications) and paired biospecimen (tissue and blood) data from several cohorts to tap Culmination’s ability to build retrospective and prospective deidentified multi-modal datasets disease-specifically. “The specifics of the research are proprietary to Merck. The collaboration is supporting development in multiple disease areas,” Nadauld explained.As a spinoff from Intermountain Health, Culmination maintains exclusive rights to more than 40 years of de-identified patient data and more than 5 million samples, speeding recruitment dramatically. Its partnership with Intermountain also expedites prospective patient recruitment for trials.
“Accessing these solutions in one place with Culmination streamlines acquisition overall, speeding up study progression. It provides scaled reliability in specimen and data acquisition for the disease being investigated, in a manner not previously available to the industry,” Dr. Nadauld said.
Beyond accelerating recruitment, the platform allows rapid querying of genomic, biological, clinical, and claims data, fueling research published in peer-reviewed journals.
Filed Under: Biospecimens, Genomics/Proteomics, Immunology