Merck and BioMed X expand collaboration to immunology research
Heidelberg, Germany, February 14th, 2019 – BioMed X announced today to add a further research program to the collaboration with Merck. In accordance with the provisions of the existing contract, a new crowdsourcing project will be launched in the field of autoimmune diseases. BioMed X and Merck started their partnership in 2013 and since then have initiated five preclinical research projects in the field of oncology and immuno-oncology. The new project will focus on the identification of unknown mechanisms in the gut which may drive the development and progression of autoimmune diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and multiple sclerosis (MS).
The intestinal epithelial barrier is an interface that maintains mucosal homeostasis by preventing underregulated exposure of the gut microbiota and antigens present in the lumen to the host internal microenvironment, avoiding subsequent abnormal inflammatory responses. Integrity of this barrier function should also shape normal microbiota. Changes in gut microbiome have been shown in systemic inflammatory diseases. Are these changes indicating a primary epithelial barrier defect in patients with these autoimmune disorders or are they only an effect of chronic inflammation over the intestinal barrier function? This question represents a unique opportunity to develop novel therapeutic concepts and innovative treatments for SLE and other autoimmune diseases.
“We are excited to extend our collaboration with Merck beyond the therapeutic area of oncology”, said Dr. Christian Tidona, Managing Director of BioMed X. “This clearly indicates the ability of our new external innovation model to deliver significant value to our pharma partners”.
About BioMed X Innovation Center
The BioMed X Innovation Center is an exciting 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 oncology, immunology, neuroscience, respiratory and diagnostics. 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 and receiving entrepreneurship and leadership training. 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, Merck and Roche.