EMD Serono, Inc. and Fast Forward, LLC Announce Recipients of Funding for
Multiple Sclerosis Research
- EMD Serono and Fast Forward provide funding of up to $1.4 million in 2012 to
accelerate early-stage research in MS
ROCKLAND, Mass. and NEW YORK, Dec. 20, 2012
ROCKLAND, Mass. and NEW YORK, Dec. 20, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --EMD Serono, Inc.,
a subsidiary of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, and Fast Forward LLC, a
wholly-owned subsidiary of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, today
announced the third group of recipients to receive funding through their
collaboration, which is designed to accelerate innovation and commercial
development of multiple sclerosis (MS) therapies.
The awards total approximately $1.4 million and will be distributed from the
Accelerating Commercial Development Fund created by EMD Serono and Fast
Forward to encourage early-stage drug discovery for MS. The Accelerating
Commercial Development Fund is open to early-stage for-profit commercial
organizations that have achieved Series A or comparable investment funding.
The other fund in the collaboration, the Accelerating Innovation Fund, is open
to academic institutions, non-profit research organizations, and seed-stage
for-profit commercial organizations.
EMD Serono and Fast Forward distributed a call for proposals to fund projects
directed towards the development of therapies to prevent, treat or reverse
nervous system damage in MS. These priority research areas were determined by
a joint steering committee comprised of Fast Forward staff and representatives
from EMD Serono and Merck KGaA.
The following organizations will receive funding:
Under the Accelerating Commercial Development Program:
oACADIA Pharmaceuticals / University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
(Principal Researchers: Roger Olsson, Ph.D. and Rhonda Voskuhl, M.D.) will
receive $545,380 over 12 months to perform research to identify estrogen
receptor beta agonist as a potential treatment of MS.
oVicore Pharma AB / Uppsala University and Charite - Universitatsmedizin
Berlin (Principal Researchers: Professor Mats Larhed and Dr. Ulrike
Steckelings) will receive $531,300 over 18 months to perform research to
identify angiotensin AT2-receptor agonists as a potential treatment of MS.
oAxxam SpA (Principal Researcher: Chiara Liberati, Ph.D.) will receive
$402,000 over 12 months to identify antagonists of the chloride
intracellular channel 1 expressed by activated microglia, which could form
the basis for the development of potential new treatments for
neurodegeneration in MS.
"We are pleased to announce the 2012 funding recipients whose work has the
potential to broaden our knowledge and understanding of MS, and hopefully,
result in new treatment options for people living with this disease," said
Bernhard Kirschbaum, PhD, Executive Vice President, Global Research and
Development at Merck Serono, a division of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany.
"Our ongoing collaboration with Fast Forward reflects our sustained commitment
to leveraging internal as well as external expertise in furthering scientific
excellence in MS."
EMD Serono and Fast Forward entered into an initial two-year, worldwide
agreement in March 2009, and recently extended the collaboration. As part of
the up to $19 million collaborative agreement with Fast Forward, EMD Serono
provides the majority of funding for the research awards, with Fast Forward
contributing 10 percent of the total financing of the awards disseminated from
each of the two funds.
"Advancing new treatments for people with MS requires continuing research and
discovery in order to find new and better treatments," said Dr. Timothy
Coetzee, Chief Research Officer at the National MS Society and Fast Forward.
"We are pleased to have the opportunity to advance research through the
continued collaboration between Fast Forward and EMD Serono. We remain
committed to being a driving force of research and treatment options to stop
MS, restore function, and end MS forever, and we look forward to learning more
from the results of these innovative projects."
About multiple sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic, inflammatory condition of the central
nervous system and is the most common, non-traumatic, disabling neurological
disease in young adults. It is estimated that approximately two million people
have MS worldwide. While symptoms can vary, the most common symptoms of MS
include blurred vision, numbness or tingling in the limbs and problems with
strength and coordination. The relapsing forms of MS are the most common.
About Fast Forward, LLC
Fast Forward, LLC, established by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society as
part of a comprehensive approach to MS research and treatment, focuses on
speeding promising research discoveries towards commercial drug development.
Fast Forward accelerates the development of treatments for MS by connecting
university-based MS research with private-sector drug development and by
funding small biotechnology/pharmaceutical companies to develop innovative new
MS therapies and repurpose FDA-approved drugs as new treatments for MS. For
more information, please visit www.fastforward.org.
About the National Multiple Sclerosis Society
The National MS Society addresses the challenges of each person affected by MS
by funding cutting-edge research, driving change through advocacy,
facilitating professional education, collaborating with MS organizations
around the world, and providing programs and services designed to help people
with MS and their families move their lives forward. The Society is dedicated
to achieving a world free of MS. Join the movement at
About EMD Serono, Inc.
EMD Serono, Inc., a subsidiary of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, is a leader
in the US biopharmaceutical arena, integrating cutting-edge science with
unparalleled patient support systems to improve people's lives. The company
has strong market positions in neurodegenerative diseases, endocrinology and
in reproductive health. In addition, EMD Serono is growing its expertise and
presence in the area of oncology, with more than 15 projects currently in
development. With a clear focus on the patient and a leadership presence in
the biopharmaceutical industry, EMD Serono's US footprint continues to grow,
with approximately 1,000 employees around the country and fully integrated
commercial, clinical and research operations in the company's home state of
For more information, please visit www.emdserono.com
About Merck KGaA
Merck is a global pharmaceutical and chemical company with total revenues of
€10.3 billion in 2011, a history that began in 1668, and a future shaped by
approximately 40,000 employees in 67 countries. Its success is characterized
by innovations from entrepreneurial employees. Merck's operating activities
come the umbrella of Merck KGaA, in which the Merck family holds an
approximately 70% interest and free shareholders own the remaining
approximately 30%. In 1917 the U.S. subsidiary Merck & Co. was expropriated
and has been an independent company ever since.
For more information, please visit www.merckserono.com or www.merckgroup.com
SOURCE EMD Serono, Inc.
Contact: Erin-Marie Beals, +1-781-681-2850
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