Merck Serono, Kadimastem update cell-based drug screening collaboration
Merck Serono and Israel’s Kadimastem have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) aimed at advancing the two companies’ current stem cell-based drug screening collaboration, which was initiated in April 2012.
Kadimastem has developed technologies to differentiate stem cells into Oligodendrocytes (brain cells that produce myelin, the insulation for the neural wiring (axons)). In Multiple sclerosis, oligodendrocytes are destroyed by the immune system.
Over the past year and a half, Merck Serono and Kadimastem have been leveraging cell-based drug screening technology to discover compounds which stimulate differentiation and myelination. This may lead to next generation therapeutics for multiple sclerosis, for example, in the stages where current drugs that affect the immune system have no more therapeutic use.
“We have been working closely with Kadimastem’s scientists for the past year and a half, and have been impressed by the company’s unique stem cell differentiation and drug screening capabilities. Kadimastem offers us a unique, human-cell based, screening model allowing us to better identify promising compounds at an earlier stage in development. I look forward to advancing collaboration on this front as I believe it has the potential to play an important role in our R&D efforts.”
Dr. Annalisa Jenkins, Executive Vice President and Head of Global Development and Medical for Merck Serono.
A key goal of the newly signed MOU is to establish drug screening assays using stem cell-derived Astrocytes. Astrocytes are neural supporting cells that have been shown to be involved in neurodegenerative diseases such as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).
“This MOU is an important validation to both the need of the pharmaceutical industry for a stem cell-derived drug screening platform, as well as to Kadimastem’s leading technological and scientific capabilities in this field. We view Merck Serono’s decision to advance the collaboration as an important step forward for our current activity, and as a springboard for further technological developments and collaborations in the near future. We value the partnership with Merck Serono and believe it will bring innovative new treatment modalities.”
Yossi Ben Yossef, Kadimastem CEO.
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