Lophius Biosciences won €350,000 (about $469,000) over two years from Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) to develop a blood-based diagnostic test, after joining Germany’s NEU2 academic-industry research consortium.

Lophius’ T-Track® MS is designed to support initial diagnoses of multiple sclerosis (MS) and monitor MS disease progression. The diagnostic uses the company’s “Reverse T-Cell Technology (RTT)” platform technology, which unlike current diagnostic methods exploits the maturation processes induced in antigen-presenting cells through interaction with activated T helper (Th) cells.

Due to the high specificity of RTT for activated Th cells, the RTT assay is designed for reliable detection of disease-specific activated Th cells as a biomarker for diagnosis and monitoring of MS and other ongoing autoimmune diseases.

Preliminary clinical proof of principle for T-Track MS was demonstrated in initial data from a collaboration between Lophius and two German institutional partners, the University of Regensburg’s Clinic and Polyclinic for Neurology, and the Institute for Neuroimmunology and Clinical MS Research at University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf.

“Both the opportunity to interact with leading experts in the MS field as well as the substantial funding will accelerate the development of our highly innovative T-cell-based diagnostic T-Track MS test kit and help Lophius to initiate a broader clinical discovery and development program,” Lophius’ managing directors, Michael Lutz, Ph.D., and Prof. Ralf Wagner, Ph.D., said in a joint statement.

NEU2—formed to promote academic-industry research partnerships—includes among its members Merck KGaA, Evotec, European ScreeningPort, Bionamics, and the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf. Bionamics is a project management company that founded NEU2 and serves as its coordinator.

Founded in 2009, NEU2 is an outgrowth of Germany’s BioPharma initiative, created to help revive the nation’s pharmaceutical industry through new drug discovery and development models. NEU2 has been funded with €40 million (about $53.6 million) from BMBF.

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