May 8, 2018 @09:25

BioMed X and Merck extend research collaboration in oncology

Heidelberg, Germany, May 8, 2018 – BioMed X announced the start of a new research project in collaboration with Merck at its Innovation Center in Heidelberg. The new team will focus on the identification of novel approaches to exploit tumor-specific RNA splicing alterations for targeted cancer therapy.

Dr. Jan Mauer, who joined the BioMed X Innovation Center from Samie Jaffrey’s lab at Weill Cornell Medicine of Cornell University, New York, USA is heading the new research team. Based on Dr. Mauer’s track record in RNA biology and disease models, the team will explore alterations in RNA-splicing and their role in the pathogenesis of several molecular subtypes of cancer. Such alterations can lead to constitutive activity of oncogenes, reduced expression of tumor suppressors, or drug resistance. The goal of the project is to identify novel approaches to exploit tumor-specific RNA splicing alterations for targeted cancer therapy.

With the start of this new project, BioMed X and Merck extend their present research collaboration. Since the inception of BioMed X in 2013, both parties have initiated five research projects in the field of oncology. The joint research so far has led to 13 scientific publications on topics such as in-silico design of selective kinase inhibitors, myeloid-derived suppressor cell activity and Golgi stress.

BioMed X has developed several platforms which have successfully been implemented within the research and development activities of its pharmaceutical partner. In 2016, Merck internalized the in-silico methodology portfolio for the rational design of selective kinase inhibitors, a crucial step for reducing undesired side effects in many cancer treatments.

In April 2018, both parties continued the success by transferring the conclusive results of a four-year project within the field of immunosuppressive microenvironment of tumors to Merck. Under the leadership of Dr. Lee Kim Swee, a research group at BioMed X developed new platforms that allow the investigation of the activity of myeloid-derived suppressor cells. The team identified several new potential drug target genes which are now further investigated in pre-clinical studies at Merck. In addition, assay systems developed by BioMed X to study the molecular mechanisms in both human and murine disease models have been integrated into Merck’s research labs.

“The continued success of our collaboration with Merck demonstrates that our new business model which translates global academic brain power into novel therapeutic concepts delivers the expected value for pharma”, said Christian Tidona, founder and Managing Director of BioMed X. Using a global crowdsourcing approach, BioMed X identifies bright young talents in fields of interest to its pharmaceutical partners and offers them the opportunity to implement their ideas within an open innovation environment on the campus of the University of Heidelberg, Germany. Next to several other models bridging the gap between academic research and the pharma industry, BioMed X has proven that global crowdsourcing combined with local incubation and guidance by experienced mentors is very well-suited to provide novel therapeutic concepts and add value to the pharmaceutical development pipeline.

Meanwhile, BioMed X collaborates with several leading pharma companies such as AbbVie, Boehringer Ingelheim, Janssen, Johnson & Johnson, Merck and Roche in different research areas such as oncology, neurosciences, immunology, respiratory diseases, consumer care and diagnostics. “Since 2013, we have successfully executed this global crowdsourcing and local incubation process with 12 research teams, recruited 95 fellows from more than 35 countries, filed 3 patents and published 18 scientific papers”, said Ann De Beuckelaer, Managing Director of BioMed X. As research projects at BioMed X are guided by mentors from the pharma industry, academic research fellows from around the world use their project term at the BioMed X Innovation Center also to explore potential career paths within an industry setting.

About BioMed X Innovation Center

The BioMed X Innovation Center is an exciting new collaboration model at the interface between academia and industry. At the center, distinguished early career scientists recruited from all over the world jointly work on novel pre-clinical research projects in the fields of biomedicine, molecular biology, cell biology, diagnostics and consumer care. These interdisciplinary project teams conduct groundbreaking biomedical research in an open innovation lab facility at the Technology Park on the campus of the University of Heidelberg, Germany. They are working under the guidance of experienced mentors from academia and industry while expanding their scientific network. Each team is typically sponsored by a corporate pharma partner of BioMed X. After a fully funded project term, successful projects are internalized into the development pipeline of the respective pharma partner. BioMed X collaborates with pharma companies such as AbbVie, Boehringer Ingelheim, Janssen, Johnson & Johnson, Merck and Roche.