Biopharm will cooperate with Merck Serono on research activities directed toward the molecular engineering of a biologic compound for the treatment of osteoarthritis.

As part of the agreement, the two firms will enter a joint discovery project focusing on a potential pro-anabolic osteoarthritis modifying drug based on a growth factor derived from the Biopharm growth factor platform technology.

The research program is intended to run for two years and aims to strengthen the potential beneficial effects of an existing wildtype protein, which is thought to drive hyaline joint cartilage formation during embryogenic development and seems to be associated with osteoarthritis, according to Biopharm.

The company will provide variants of the wildtype protein and early pre-clinical research services focusing on the molecule properties to Merck Serono. In case of identification of any development candidates, Merck Serono will own exclusive development and commercialization rights to the development candidates for osteoarthritis.

“We have insight that the maternal protein shows an important role in joint cartilage formation. These findings raise hope that a modified wildtype 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.”

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