EMD Serono develops a host of drugs used for treatment in the areas of endocrinology, fertility, neurology, and oncology. The US biopharmaceutical company's flagship product, Rebif, is one of the world's leading drugs for relapsing multiple sclerosis (MS), a neurodegenerative disease. Rebif (which is marketed by Pfizer in the US) and Gonal-f (a recombinant hormone therapy for female infertility) are among the top sellers for the firm's Swiss parent Merck Serono. Other marketed therapies are designed to help treat growth hormone deficiency, HIV, and short bowel syndrome. In its development portfolio, product candidates include vaccines and immunotherapies that may help a patient's own immune system fight cancer.
Besides its headquarters and commercial facility in Rockland, Massachusetts, EMD Serono operates a research and protein production operation northwest of Boson in the town of Billerica.
A new entrant to the oncology development field, EMD Serono is expanding its operations to accommodate its larger R&D scope. To this end, it invested about $65 million to build a second major research facility in Billerica. The center, completed in 2011, is home to all of the company's research operations, including about 200 scientists with expertise in cancer biology, cancer immunotherapy, medicinal chemistry, molecular modeling, protein engineering, and antibody technologies.
The company has some 15 onconoloy projects in development and more than 30 trials globally that are focused on developing innovative therapies for cancer and neurodegenerative diseases, such as MS and Parkinson's disease. EMD Serono has recently restarted a clinical program studying BLP25 liposome vaccine, a therapeutic vaccine for non-small cell lung cancer. The FDA had previously put the program on hold after a multiple myeloma (plasma cell cancer) patient in a clinical trial developed encephalitis (acute brain inflammation). BLP25 is still on hold for clinical trials in advanced breast cancer.
As part of its neurodegenerative drug development efforts, EMD Serono is helping to advance basic and clinical research on MS through several collaboration agreements it inked back in 2009. With Boston-based Brigham & Women's Hospital it is undertaking basic and clinical research work to discover new treatments. With Fast Forward, a not-for-profit organization established by The National Multiple Sclerosis Society, EMD Serono is evaluating and offering funding to promising MS projects engaged in early-stage clinical development. And it is providing The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center insight into potential cancer treatments to help bring new drugs to patients faster.
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