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News Release
November 9, 2015
Contact: Jill DeCoste
Phone: +1 978-715-4670

Merck Launches Novel Cancer Stem Cell Identification Kit, Exclusively Licensed from Johns Hopkins University
  • New AldeRed™ Detection Kit labels cancer stem cells expressing the aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) enzyme marker with red fluorescence, allowing concurrent use of green fluorescent reporters
  • Merck has exclusive license to this technology for research reagent sales and services
  • Ideal for cancer and stem cell researchers previously limited to detecting ALDH-positive cells with green fluorescent label

Darmstadt, Germany, November 9, 2015 Merck, a leading science and technology company, today introduced the new AldeRed™ ALDH Detection Kit for identifying and isolating cancer stem cells.

Merck has entered into an exclusive license with Johns Hopkins University (JHU) to commercialize an innovative tool that provides cancer and stem cell scientists with new capabilities for live cell isolation and characterization. The AldeRed™ reagent is used to label cancer stem cells with a red fluorescent dye, making it possible to distinguish cancer stem cells in live cell populations where specific identification was previously impossible.

ALDH, a cancer stem cell marker enzyme, causes the AldeRed™ reagent to fluoresce in the far-red spectrum, allowing the cells to be identified and isolated with concurrent use of green fluorescent cell lines, transgenic animals and reporter assays. Previous ALDH reporters exhibited green fluorescence, which made it difficult to identify positive cells in an otherwise green fluorescent background. Merck and JHU researchers presented data using the AldeRed™ reagent at the 2015 American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting, where attendees expressed great interest in the technology. Research on the tool was also published in the journal Nature Communications.*

“To support the search for cancer’s cure, it is Merck’s responsibility to seek the most innovative technologies being developed by groundbreaking researchers and make these tools accessible to scientists globally,” said Udit Batra, President and CEO of Merck. “Our agreement with Johns Hopkins University to commercialize the AldeRed™ technology is an exciting step toward fulfilling that possibility.”

Merck launched the AldeRed™ ALDH Detection Kit at the 2015 International Society for Stem Cell Research Annual Meeting in Stockholm, Sweden.

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*Reference: Minn I, Wang H, Mease RC, Byun Y, Yang X, Wang J, Leach SD, Pomper MG. A red-shifted fluorescent substrate for aldehyde dehydrogenase. Nat Commun. 2014 Apr 23;5:3662. doi: 10.1038/ncomms4662. PubMed PMID: 24759454; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4063304.

About Merck
Merck is a leading science and technology company in healthcare, life science and performance materials. Around 40,000 employees work to further develop technologies that improve and enhance life – from biopharmaceutical therapies to treat cancer or multiple sclerosis, cutting-edge systems for scientific research and production, to liquid crystals for smartphones and LCD televisions. In 2014, Merck generated sales of € 11.3 billion in 66 countries.

Founded in 1668, Merck is the world's oldest pharmaceutical and chemical company. The founding family remains the majority owner of the publicly listed corporate group. Merck, Darmstadt, Germany holds the global rights to the Merck name and brand. The only exceptions are the United States and Canada, where the company operates as EMD Serono, EMD Millipore and EMD Performance Materials.