Merck Serono and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, US have announced a collaboration to advance clinical research and develop new treatments for multiple sclerosis (MS).

The collaboration will focus on three key areas:

  • The first will see an increase in patient numbers for an existing long-term, longitudinal, clinical assessment of people living with MS. The trial, in which 800 patients are enrolled, will be extended to 2,000, from which important data living with MS over a long period of time will be used to develop a new generation of clinical endpoints.
  • The second goal is take samples, which will be analysed for the purposes of evaluating identified target biomarkers; exploring and validating new biomarkers; correlating biomarkers with clinical and MRI outcomes and designing an interventional proof-of-concept study.
  • Thirdly, the collaboration will attempt to identify unique targets on resident cells of the central nervous system and assess their potential impact in neurodegenerative diseases including MS.

Merck Serono executive vice-president of research and development Dr Bernhard Kirschbaum said that in key therapeutic areas like MS there is still the need for new and innovative treatments.

“Ultimately, we hope that this unique collaboration will generate new discoveries that will make a difference in the clinic and for people living with MS,” Kirschbaum said.

The multi-faceted agreement will run for up to five years, with the potential to renew the alliance thereafter. Both parties have not disclosed financial details.