Germany's Merck forges JV with Thiel's Palantir to harness data to attack cancer
With the incidence of cancer exploding in most parts of the world, harnessing the power of data has become imperative to unlocking solutions for one of the titanic public health challenges in this century. As such, Germany’s Merck KGaA has tied up with Peter Thiel’s data mining company Palantir Technologies under a joint venture called Syntropy that will allow scientists and researchers to tap into a collaborative tech platform to advance cancer research.
Research institutions are rapidly generating biomedical data, but much of it is trapped in silos within and between institutions — this information is often inaccessible to the scientists and doctors who could use it to spot trends, develop diagnoses and treatments, the companies said on Monday.
Syntropy — which combines Palo Alto-based Palantir’s Foundry data platform with the scientific arsenal of Merck KGaA’s MilliporeSigma unit — is tasked with facilitating the transparent sharing of data between participating researchers and institutions, creating an ecosystem that incentivizes collaboration and stimulates scientific discovery. Drugmakers have already begun to aggressively pursue agreements to access patient health records and ink deals with tech companies to comprehend how medicines perform in the real world aided by big data analytics.
It is predicted there will be 27.5 million new cancer cases worldwide each year by 2040 — an increase of 61.7% from 2018 — if recent trends continue, according to statistics cited by Cancer Research UK.
Alongside Merck KGaA, Palantir — which has a number of contracts with US government agencies — has signed a non-binding term sheet to initiate the creation of Syntropy, which is expected to be headquartered in Boston.