EMD Serono, Inc., an affiliate ofMerck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, today announced a strategic collaboration withBrigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, to advance basic and clinical researchin multiple sclerosis (MS), with the goal of generating new and innovativediscoveries that advance treatment for people living with this condition. Themulti-faceted agreement will run for up to 5 years, with the potential torenew the alliance thereafter. Both parties decided not to disclose financialdetails. "We are extremely proud to announce this valuable collaboration with therenowned Brigham and Women's Hospital," says Dr. Bernhard Kirschbaum,Executive Vice President, Research and Development, Merck Serono, an affiliateof Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany. "As a global leader in the area ofneurodegenerative diseases, we have an unwavering commitment to advancingresearch efforts in key therapeutic areas like MS where there is still theneed for new and innovative treatments. Ultimately, we hope that this uniquecollaboration will generate new discoveries which will truly make a differenceboth for physicians in the clinic and in the way people living with MSapproach their therapy." The collaboration will focus on three key areas, each with the goal ofidentifying new and better ways to manage neurodegenerative conditionsincluding MS: -- The first is to enhance an existing long-term, longitudinal, clinicalassessment of people living with MS, based on the CLIMB study(Comprehensive Longitudinal Investigation of Multiple Sclerosis atBrigham and Women's Hospital). Each patient in the study will beassessed over a period of 10 years; currently 800 patients areenrolled, with an expansion of this study to 2000 subjects underway.This longitudinal database will be analyzed to identify novel aspectsof disease characteristics, treatment responses, and disease-modifyingfactors. The data gathered from this assessment of people living withMS over a long period of time may be useful in the generation of newclinical endpoints for future interventional trials. -- The second goal of the collaboration is to identify MS-relatedbiomarkers. These samples will be analyzed for the purposes ofevaluating identified target biomarkers; exploring and validating newbiomarkers; correlating biomarkers with clinical and MRI outcomes; anddesigning an interventional proof-of-concept study. -- The third goal of the collaboration is to identify unique targets onresident cells of the central nervous system and assess theirpotential impact in neurodegenerative diseases including MS. Thesestudies are important to better understand ways to achieveneuroprotection in neurodegenerative diseases. Additional projects may be added to the scope of the collaboration on anongoing basis. This unique collaboration will create an unprecedented combination ofexpertise between EMD Serono, a leader in the biopharmaceutical industry withmarketed products to treat MS, as well as Brigham and Women's, a globallyrecognized hospital, academic, and research institution. "The strategic alliance with EMD Serono allows us to collaborate with aleading biopharmaceutical organization to strengthen our understanding of thedisease pathology behind neurological diseases like MS," said Dr. HowardWeiner, Director of the Partners Multiple Sclerosis Center and Co-Director ofthe Center for Neurologic Diseases at Brigham & Women's Hospital. This agreement underscores EMD Serono's commitment to partnering withleading academic and medical institutions in an effort to drive forwardlate-stage research and early-stage clinical development in MS and otherneurodegenerative diseases.