Fast Forward and EMD Serono announced the third group of recipients to receive funding through their collaboration, which is designed to accelerate innovation and commercial development of multiple sclerosis (MS) therapies. The awards total approximately $1.4 million.

Fast Forward and EMD Serono distributed a call for proposals to fund projects directed toward the development of therapies to prevent, treat, or reverse nervous system damage in MS. These priority research areas were determined by a joint steering committee comprised of Fast Forward staff and representatives from EMD Serono and Merck KGaA.

The organizations that will receive funding under the Accelerating Commercial Development Program include ACADIA Pharmaceuticals/University of California, Los Angeles, receiving $545,380 over 12 months to perform research to identify estrogen receptor beta agonist as a potential treatment of MS and Vicore Pharma/Uppsala University and Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin, receiving $531,300 over 18 months to perform research to identify angiotensin AT2-receptor agonists as a potential treatment of MS.

Additionally, Axxam will receive $402,000 over 12 months to identify antagonists of the chloride intracellular channel 1 expressed by activated microglia, which could form the basis for the development of potential new treatments for neurodegeneration in MS. Axxam also received funding last year. Other companies receiving funding in 2011 were the Howard Florey Institute and The Gladstone Institutes/UCSF.

Fast Forward and EMD Serono entered into an initial two-year, worldwide agreement in March 2009, and recently extended the collaboration. As part of the up to $19 million collaborative agreement with Fast Forward, EMD Serono provides the majority of funding for the research awards, with Fast Forward contributing 10 % of the total financing of the awards disseminated from each of the two funds.

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