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New Investments Strengthen Biotechnology Cooperation

By BiotechDaily International staff writers
Posted on 16 Dec 2013
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A series of new investments and cooperative agreements have strengthened the cooperation between a large Swiss/German corporation and a group of Israeli start-up biotechnology companies.

The Merck Serono (Geneva, Switzerland) Israel bioincubator complex in Yavne is set to receive two start-up biotechnology companies, Metabomed Ltd. and ChanBio Ltd. They will be joining Neviah Genomics Ltd., the first company to join the incubator, in which Merck Serono invested 10 million euros.

Metabomed is conducting research on cancer metabolism and computational biology while ChanBio will concentrate on the discovery of selective antibodies for ion channels as possible therapeutic targets for the treatment of multiple sclerosis.

Neviah Genomics was established in June 2012 by Compugen (Tel Aviv, Israel) and Merck Serono. Neviah Genomics focuses on the discovery and development of novel biomarkers for the prediction of drug-induced toxicity. Merck Serono Ventures is providing the initial funding for Neviah Genomics and it will contribute its expertise in the validation and development of biomarkers for the development of a diagnostic test. Compugen will utilize certain proprietary predictive discovery technologies and receive an equity ownership in the new company and a right to royalties from potential future sales.

Separately, Merck Serano's parent company Merck KgaA (Darmstadt, Germany) recently raised its stake in Qlight Nanotech (Jerusalem, Israel). Qlight Nanotech develops semiconductor nanocrystals that display unique optical and electrical properties. Qlight’s nanocrystals enable light conversion from UV and blue wavelengths to any other wavelength in the visible range. The color, or the wavelength, of the light is determined by the nanoparticle's size.

In addition, Merck signed a memorandum of understanding with Kadimastem Ltd. (Nes-Ziona, Israel), a developer of human pluripotent stem cell-related products, to utilize its screening platform to characterize new compounds for remyelinating agents for multiple sclerosis, and which may also help to treat amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

"The innovative landscape of Israel fits in perfectly with our "Living Innovation" claim," said Stefan Oschmann head of pharmaceuticals at Merck. “In Israel, we not only have a past which has led to some of Merck’s most important products like Rebif and Erbitux, but also a promising future because we continue to find very interesting and cutting-edge science and the support here in Israel to translate that science into products. Israel has a quality education system and above-average intellectual capital. Compared with other countries, Israel has the highest concentration of scientists and engineers in the world. In addition, cooperation partners appreciate that Israeli scientists often work in a less conventional manner and are faster at implementing their results."

Related Links:

Merck Serono
Qlight Nanotech

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