Germany’s Merck Adds Israeli R&D Partners

27.11.2013 -

German chemicals and pharmaceutical group Merck KGaA has added two new partners, the newly created Metabomed and the start-up ChanBio, to its €10 million Merck Serono Israel Bioincubator research partnership focused on pre-seed and seed opportunities arising in Israel.

Metabomed, established by scientists at Tel Aviv University and the Technion Israel Institute of Technology, specializes in cancer metabolism and computational biology. ChanBio plans to concentrate on discovery of antibodies selective for ion channels considered to be significant therapeutic targets for treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS).

Strategic investments in external innovation are key elements of Merck's strategy, said Stefan Oschmann, managing board member responsible for pharmaceuticals. "Our MS Ventures fund demonstrates our commitment to creating long-term relationships with and tapping into the innovative entrepreneurial spirit of biotech companies," he added.

Merck recently increased its stake in Jerusalem-based Qlight Nanotech and said it may apply with "selected Israeli partners" for research grants in the Nofar program of Israel's Ministry of Industry and Trade.

The company's biopharmaceuticals arm, Swiss-based Merck Serono, earlier this month signed a memorandum of understanding to cooperate with Israeli biotech firm Kadimastern, which develops human pluripotent stem-cell related products. The aim is to find new compounds as remyelinating agents for MS and possibly to expand the collaboration into treatments for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), popularly known as Lou Gehrig's disease.