Biogen Idec won a nonexclusive sublicense from the Myelin Repair Foundation (MRF) for the use of its technologies in developing a new mouse model for multiple sclerosis (MS) and other demyelinating diseases. The value was undisclosed.

Biogen Idec said it will use MRF technology in its in-house drug discovery programs, as well as collaborate with the foundation to improve the licensed technologies, with the goals of speeding up discovery and clinical development of new myelin repair therapies.

“Our collaboration with the Myelin Repair Foundation will incorporate their technology into our evaluation of novel approaches to stimulating myelin repair,” Ken Rhodes, Biogen Idec’s vp of neurology research, said in a statement. “Our collaborative efforts with MRF scientists will evaluate drug candidates’ effectiveness in reversing myelin damage and hopefully advance R&D efforts for a new generation of MS therapeutics.”

The collaboration will incorporate MRF’s Accelerated Research Collaboration (ARC) model, which as GEN reported last year is intended to bridge the logistical, cultural, and financial distance between academic labs and licensing by commercial drug developers. ARC’s goal is to bring new medicines to patients 50%–70% faster than current drug development.

In an earlier collaboration applying ARC, MRF principal investigator Brian Popko, Ph.D., and Maria Traka, Ph.D., both from the University of Chicago, created the DTA mouse model with MRF principal investigator Stephen Miller, Ph.D., and Joseph Podojil, Ph.D., both of Northwestern University.

Under the DTA model, demyelination is the result of the specific loss of the principal target cells in MS, thus facilitating identification of potential treatments to restore myelin production by these target cells. Also, the DTA model displays characteristics reminiscent of the progressive form of MS, not yet available in other mouse models. By contrast, the most commonly used models for MS currently mimic the hyperactive inflammatory process in patients with the disease.

Biogen Idec markets two MS drugs, Avonex (Interferon beta-1a) for relapsing forms of MS, as well as patients who have their first clinical MS attack and have a brain MRI scan consistent with MS; and Tysabri (natalizumab), approved for relapsing forms of MS in the U.S. and relapsing-remitting MS in the E.U.

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