Biogen Idec is funding a three-year collaboration with the University of Edinburgh in Scotland to explore the cell processes behind multiple sclerosis and motor neurone disease.
The partnership, which combines the University’s expertise in translational medicine with Biogen Idec’s strengths in drug discovery and development, will include identifying drug compounds that could potentially be used as treatments for the neurodegenerative conditions.
It will involve clinicians and scientists, based at the Edinburgh BioQuarter, site of the University’s MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine, and will draw on the University of Edinburgh’s capabilities in neuroscience, stem cell research and regeneration.
Biogen Idec is known for its commitment to developing therapies for neurological disorders. The US-based company’s portfolio of marketed treatments for multiple sclerosis includes Tecfidera (dimethyl fumarate), Tysabri (natalizumab) and Avonex (interferon beta-1a).
Ken Rhodes, Biogen Idec’s vice president of neurology research, said the collaboration was expected to “provide an in-depth portrait” of the pathophysiology of multiple sclerosis and motor neurone disease, while identifying “important new targets for potential therapies”.
The company has a historical association with the University of Edinburgh. One of its founders, the molecular biologist Sir Kenneth Murray, worked at the University, where he used his expertise in genetic engineering to develop a vaccine against hepatitis B.