Merck and BioMed X expand collaboration to immunology research

BioMed X added 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”.