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BioMed X Institute and Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, extend collaboration in oncology

  • BioMed X team RSC (RNA Splicing in Cancer) to continue its research on the identification of novel approaches to exploit tumor-specific RNA splicing alterations for targeted cancer therapy

  • Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany to acquire IP rights in project results

Heidelberg, February 1st, 2022. German independent research institute BioMed X announces today the extension of its collaboration with Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, in the research project RNA Splicing in Cancer (RSC). As a result of the successful research work to date, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany has decided to acquire the IP rights in the project results and to continue the project for another year. The goal of the extension is to further validate novel potential drug targets based on these results.

This research program marks the partners’ fifth joint project in oncology and is already the second program to be extended beyond the originally anticipated 4-year timeframe. Since the inception of the BioMed X Institute in 2013, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany has initiated and supported a total of eight different research groups at BioMed X, also in the fields of immuno-oncology, and autoimmunity.

The RSC research program was launched at the BioMed X Institute in 2018. Emerging data indicated a critical dependency of several subtypes of cancer on a molecular mechanism called RNA splicing. The team was identifying key molecular mechanisms that generate mRNA splicing abnormalities in cancer. Such aberrant splicing can lead to constitutive activity of oncogenes, reduced expression of tumor suppressors, or drug resistance. The goal of the project was to identify novel approaches to exploit tumor-specific RNA splicing alterations for targeted cancer therapy.

“By employing omics technologies in combination with mechanistic cellular biology, we have investigated how mRNA and protein isoform expression shapes the complex pathophysiology of tumor cells. Our goal within the next year will be to identify additional cancer-specific vulnerabilities for targeted therapies based on our results”, says Dr. Alexandra Duarte who previously worked as Postdoctoral Researcher in the research group and now assumes the role of a Group Leader in the final phase of project RSC.

Dr. Christian Tidona, Founder and Managing Director of the BioMed X Institute: “The continued success of our collaboration with Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany demonstrates BioMed X’s growing expertise in cancer research and further deepens our trustful partnership. At the same time, the promotion of Dr. Alexandra Duarte to Group Leader in this crucial final phase of team RSC demonstrates how our innovation model is empowering the next generation of top researchers to advance their careers.”


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