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German Biopharmaceutical Partners to Seek Osteoarthritis Drug

By BiotechDaily International staff writers
Posted on 02 Dec 2013
Two German biopharmaceutical companies are joining forces to develop a new class of drugs for treatment of osteoarthritis.

At the present time there are no truly effective treatments for osteoarthritis of the knee, which, according to the World Health Organization, effects more than 5% of adults over the age of 40 (more than 30 million people) in the developed countries.

To boost the search for drugs to treat osteoarthritis, Biopharm GmbH (Heidelberg, Germany) and Merck Serono (Darmstadt, Germany) have agreed to embark on a two-year joint discovery program focused on a potential pro-anabolic osteoarthritis modifying drug based on a growth factor derived from Biopharm's growth factor platform technology.

According to the terms of the agreement, Biopharm will provide variants of a wild type protein, which is thought to drive hyaline joint cartilage formation during embryogenesis and seems to be associated with osteoarthritis, as well as early preclinical research services. In the event of identification of potential development candidates, Merck Serono will own exclusive development and commercialization rights.

“We have insight that the maternal protein shows an important role in joint cartilage formation. These findings raise hope that a modified wild type protein may induce cartilage regeneration in the osteoarthritic joint,” said Dr. Frank Plöger, CSO of Biopharm. “The alliance will draw on the combined expertise and resources of Merck Serono and Biopharm with the ultimate goal to develop a disease modifying osteoarthritis drug. Although we have knowledge about the molecule, we need a partner like Merck Serono, who does not only provide the necessary resources, but also know how best to set up of our research program to ensure a successful hand over to clinical experts.”

Related Links:

Biopharm GmbH
Merck Serono



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