EMD Serono, Inc. and Nationally Ranked US Hospital Announce Collaboration in Basic and Clinical Research in Multiple Sclerosis

Dec 16, 2009, 08:00 ET from EMD Serono, Inc.

ROCKLAND, Mass., Dec. 16 /PRNewswire/ -- EMD Serono, Inc., an affiliate of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, today announced a strategic collaboration with Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, to advance basic and clinical research in multiple sclerosis (MS), with the goal of generating new and innovative discoveries that advance treatment for people living with this condition. The multi-faceted agreement will run for up to 5 years, with the potential to renew the alliance thereafter. Both parties decided not to disclose financial details.

"We are extremely proud to announce this valuable collaboration with the renowned Brigham and Women's Hospital," says Dr. Bernhard Kirschbaum, Executive Vice President, Research and Development, Merck Serono, an affiliate of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany. "As a global leader in the area of neurodegenerative diseases, we have an unwavering commitment to advancing research efforts in key therapeutic areas like MS where there is still the need for new and innovative treatments. Ultimately, we hope that this unique collaboration will generate new discoveries which will truly make a difference both for physicians in the clinic and in the way people living with MS approach their therapy."

The collaboration will focus on three key areas, each with the goal of identifying new and better ways to manage neurodegenerative conditions including MS:

  • The first is to enhance an existing long-term, longitudinal, clinical assessment of people living with MS, based on the CLIMB study (Comprehensive Longitudinal Investigation of Multiple Sclerosis at Brigham and Women's Hospital). Each patient in the study will be assessed over a period of 10 years; currently 800 patients are enrolled, with an expansion of this study to 2000 subjects underway. This longitudinal database will be analyzed to identify novel aspects of disease characteristics, treatment responses, and disease-modifying factors. The data gathered from this assessment of people living with MS over a long period of time may be useful in the generation of new clinical endpoints for future interventional trials.
  • The second goal of the collaboration is to identify MS-related biomarkers. These samples will be analyzed for the purposes of evaluating identified target biomarkers; exploring and validating new biomarkers; correlating biomarkers with clinical and MRI outcomes; and designing an interventional proof-of-concept study.
  • The third goal of the collaboration is to identify unique targets on resident cells of the central nervous system and assess their potential impact in neurodegenerative diseases including MS. These studies are important to better understand ways to achieve neuroprotection in neurodegenerative diseases.

Additional projects may be added to the scope of the collaboration on an ongoing basis.

This unique collaboration will create an unprecedented combination of expertise between EMD Serono, a leader in the biopharmaceutical industry with marketed products to treat MS, as well as Brigham and Women's, a globally recognized hospital, academic, and research institution.

"The strategic alliance with EMD Serono allows us to collaborate with a leading biopharmaceutical organization to strengthen our understanding of the disease pathology behind neurological diseases like MS," said Dr. Howard Weiner, Director of the Partners Multiple Sclerosis Center and Co-Director of the Center for Neurologic Diseases at Brigham & Women's Hospital.

This agreement underscores EMD Serono's commitment to partnering with leading academic and medical institutions in an effort to drive forward late-stage research and early-stage clinical development in MS and other neurodegenerative diseases.

About EMD Serono, Inc.

EMD Serono, Inc., an affiliate of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, is a leader in the US biopharmaceutical arena, integrating cutting-edge science with unparalleled patient support systems to improve people's lives. The company has strong market positions in neurodegenerative diseases, with Rebif® (interferon beta-1a), as well as in endocrinology, with Saizen® (somatropin (rDNA origin) for injection) and Serostim® (somatropin (rDNA origin) for injection). EMD Serono is a leader in reproductive health, with Gonal-f® (follitropin alfa for injection), Luveris® (lutropin alfa for injection) and Ovidrel® Prefilled Syringe (choriogonadotropin alfa injection). With a clear focus on the patient and a leadership presence in the biopharmaceutical industry, EMD Serono's US footprint continues to grow, with more than 1000 employees around the country and fully integrated commercial, clinical and research operations in the company's home state of Massachusetts.

For more information, please visit www.emdserono.com

About Merck KGaA

Merck KGaA is a global pharmaceutical and chemical company with total revenues of 7.6 billion euros in 2008, a history that began in 1668, and a future shaped by 33,000 employees in 60 countries. Its success is characterized by innovations from entrepreneurial employees. Merck's operating activities come under the umbrella of Merck KGaA, in which the Merck family holds an approximately 70% interest and free shareholders own the remaining approximately 30%. In 1917 the U.S. subsidiary Merck & Co. was expropriated and has been an independent company ever since.

For more information, please visit www.merckserono.com or www.merck.de

SOURCE EMD Serono, Inc.