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Press Release

Merck Serono Announces Collaboration in Basic and Clinical Research in Multiple Sclerosis

Merck Serono
Posted on: 16 Dec 09
Merck Serono Announces Collaboration in Basic and Clinical Research in Multiple SclerosisPR NewswireGENEVA, December 16

GENEVA, December 16 /PRNewswire/ -- Merck Serono, a division of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, today announced a strategic collaboration with US ranked 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 valuablecollaboration with the renowned Brigham and Women's Hospital," says Dr.Bernhard Kirschbaum, Executive Vice President Research and Development atMerck Serono. "As a global leader in the area of neurodegenerative diseases,we have an unwavering commitment to advancing research efforts in keytherapeutic areas like MS where there is still the need for new andinnovative treatments. Ultimately, we hope that this unique collaborationwill generate new discoveries which will truly make a difference both forphysicians in the clinic and in the way people living with MS approach theirtherapy."

The collaboration will focus on three key areas, each with thegoal of identifying new and better ways to manage neurodegenerativeconditions 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 identifyMS-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 uniquetargets 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 thecollaboration on an ongoing basis.

This unique collaboration will create an unprecedentedcombination of expertise between Merck Serono, a leader in thebiopharmaceutical industry with marketed products to treat MS, as well asBrigham and Women's, a globally recognized hospital, academic, and researchinstitution.

"The strategic alliance with Merck Serono allows us tocollaborate with a leading biopharmaceutical organization to strengthen ourunderstanding of the disease pathology behind neurological diseases like MS,"said Dr. Howard Weiner, Director of the Partners Multiple Sclerosis Centerand Co-Director of the Center for Neurologic Diseases at Brigham and Women'sHospital.

This agreement underscores Merck Serono's commitment topartnering with leading academic and medical institutions in an effort todrive forward late-stage research and early-stage clinical development in MSand other neurodegenerative diseases.

About Merck Serono

Merck Serono is the division for innovative prescriptionpharmaceuticals of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, a global pharmaceuticaland chemical company. Headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, Merck Seronodiscovers, develops, manufactures and markets innovative small molecules andbiopharmaceuticals to help patients with unmet medical needs. In the UnitedStates and Canada, EMD Serono operates through separately incorporatedaffiliates.

Merck Serono has leading brands serving patients with cancer (Erbitux(R),cetuximab), multiple sclerosis (Rebif(R), interferon beta-1a), infertility(Gonal-f(R), follitropin alpha), endocrine and metabolic disorders (Saizen(R)and Serostim(R), somatropin), (Kuvan(R), sapropterin dihydrochloride) as wellas cardiometabolic diseases (Glucophage(R), metformin), (Concor(R),bisoprolol), (Euthyrox(R), levothyroxine). Not all products are available inall markets.

With an annual R&D expenditure of around EUR 1bn, Merck Seronois committed to growing its business in specialist-focused therapeutic areasincluding neurodegenerative diseases, oncology, fertility and endocrinology,as well as new areas potentially arising out of research and development inautoimmune and inflammatory diseases.

About Merck

Merck is a global pharmaceutical and chemical company withtotal revenues of EUR 7.6 billion in 2008, a history that began in 1668, anda future shaped by approximately 33,000 employees in 60 countries. Itssuccess is characterized by innovations from entrepreneurial employees.Merck's operating activities come under the umbrella of Merck KGaA, in whichthe Merck family holds an approximately 70% interest and free shareholdersown 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 http://www.merckserono.comor

PR Newswire

Last updated on: 27/08/2010

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