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BioMed X Starts New Research Program in Autoimmune Diseases with Merck
BioMed X has announced the start of a new joint research group in collaboration with Merck.
With this new group, BioMed X and Merck extend their ongoing collaboration to a total of six joint research projects at the BioMed X Innovation Center in Heidelberg, Germany. The new project will focus on the role of the intestinal epithelial barrier in the development and exacerbation of autoimmune diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and multiple sclerosis (MS).
Loss of intestinal barrier function is correlated with several autoimmune diseases. The main objective of the new group supported by Merck is to understand the molecular mechanisms of the interactions between intestinal epithelial barrier and immune cells in autoimmune diseases, in particular the interactions between dendritic cells and intestinal enterocytes. Studies will involve the use of conventional and high-throughput metagenomics, generation of intestinal organoids from murine and human subjects, isolation of immune cells and establishing a three dimensional in-vitro co-culture model to observe interactions of the intestinal epithelial barrier with immune cells. The goal of the project is to identify novel biomarkers and new therapeutic targets for the treatment of intestinal barrier loss to prevent the development and progression of autoimmune diseases.
“We are excited to further extend our collaboration with Merck”, said Christian Tidona, founder and Managing Director of BioMed X. “This is our first joint research group with Merck beyond the field of oncology and we are looking forward to working with Merck’s Translational Innovation Platform Immunology in Billerica near Boston.”
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 work jointly on novel pre-clinical research projects in the fields of biomedicine, molecular biology, cell biology and diagnostics. These interdisciplinary project teams conduct outstanding biomedical research in an open-innovation lab facility on the campus of the University of Heidelberg, under the guidance of experienced mentors from academia and industry, while expanding their scientific network and receiving training in entrepreneurship and leadership. Each team is typically sponsored by a corporate pharmaceutical 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.
Merck, a leading science and technology company, operates across healthcare, life science and performance materials. Around 56,000 employees work to make a positive difference to millions of people’s lives every day by creating more joyful and sustainable ways to live. From advancing gene- editing technologies and discovering unique ways to treat the most challenging diseases to enabling the intelligence of devices – Merck is everywhere. In 2018, Merck generated sales of €14.8 billion in 66 countries.
Scientific exploration and responsible entrepreneurship have been key to Merck’s technological and scientific advances. This is how Merck has thrived since its founding in 1668. The founding family remains the majority owner of the publicly listed company. Merck holds the global rights to the “Merck” name and brand. The only exceptions are the United States and Canada, where the business sectors operate as EMD Serono in healthcare, MilliporeSigma in life science, and EMD Performance Materials.