Thursday, 12 September 2013

Evotec announces partnership wth Harvard Stem Cell Institute

Evotec issued a press release today, announcing a strategic partnership with the Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI) to identify compounds that prevent or slow down the loss of motor neurons, which is characteristic of the human disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

The collaboration "CureMN" (CureMotorNeuron) will leverage human motor neuron assays based on ALS patient-derived induced pluripotent stem ("iPS") cells that were developed by Dr Lee Rubin, HSCI Principal Faculty member and professor in the Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology at Harvard, and Dr Kevin Eggan, Early Career Scientist at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, HSCI Principal Faculty member and professor in the Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology at Harvard as well as Evotec's leading drug discovery infrastructure and expertise to identify compounds that will have therapeutic value against this life-threatening disease.


"Kevin and Lee have made significant contributions to our understanding of the underlying pathology of motor neuron diseases. Their laboratories have developed a large array of ALS patient-derived motor neuron models that allow screening of diseased human cells in culture -- an approach that is sometimes referred to as a 'clinical trial in a dish'. Our intention is to systematically screen for new mechanisms, targets and compounds that have the potential to be developed into new products that will modify and ideally halt the progression of ALS and potentially other motor neuron diseases." said Dr Cord Dohrmann, Chief Scientific Officer of Evotec.

"Phenotypic screens based on patient-derived iPS cells are an exciting approach to tackle diseases where tractable mechanisms have remained elusive. Evotec's proven expertise in high-content screening and deep knowledge in the field of motor neurons is a perfect match for this project. In this latest collaborative effort with Evotec, we look forward to putting our combined dedication and knowledge to work identifying new therapeutics for motor neuron diseases," added Dr Vivian Berlin, Director Business Development in Harvard's Office of Technology Development.

This agreement marks the third collaboration between Evotec and leading Harvard Stem Cell Institute scientists - and the fourth with Harvard scientists - and significantly expands a partnership model which combines cutting-edge academic research from Harvard with Evotec's leading drug platform and expertise. This partnership model efficiently and effectively drives the development of innovative drug candidates.

"This agreement is another important step in our vital collaboration with Evotec, enabling us to hasten the transfer of stem cell-based discoveries to the clinic," said Brock Reeve, Executive Director of HSCI.

"Evotec, HSCI and Harvard share a commitment to accelerating promising research from the lab to the clinic, our continued collaboration is based upon a shared vision to match world-class science with industrial capability to address important unmet medical need, which is at the core of our public mission." " said Isaac T. Kohlberg, Harvard University's Senior Associate Provost and Chief Technology Development Officer.

Evotec has also reached an agreement in principal with PatientsLikeMe (www.patientslikeme.com) on approaches to rapidly evaluate any patient testable theories about progression or pathways that might express themselves in ALS patients.

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