Evotec AG has entered a strategic partnership with the Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI) to identify compounds that prevent or slow down motor neuron loss in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). The collaboration will leverage motor neuron assays based on ALS patient-derived induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells developed by Dr. Lee Rubin and Dr. Kevin Eggan, scientists and professors at HSCI, with Evotec's drug discovery infrastructure and expertise, to identify compounds against ALS. Financial terms were not disclosed.
This represents the third collaboration between Evotec and HSCI, and significantly expands a partnership model that combines academic research from Harvard with Evotec's drug platform and expertise.
Dr. Cord Dohrmann, chief scientific officer of Evotec, said, "Kevin and Lee have made significant contributions to our understanding of the underlying pathology of motor neuron diseases. Their laboratories have developed a large array of ALS patient-derived motor neuron models that allow screening of diseased human cells in culture, an approach that is sometimes referred to as a 'clinical trial in a dish'. Our intention is to systematically screen for new mechanisms, targets and compounds that have the potential to be developed into new products that will modify and ideally halt the progression of ALS and potentially other motor neuron diseases."
"Phenotypic screens based on patient-derived iPS cells are an exciting approach to tackle diseases where tractable mechanisms have remained elusive. Evotec's proven expertise in high-content screening and deep knowledge in the field of motor neurons is a perfect match for this project. In this latest collaborative effort with Evotec, we look forward to putting our combined dedication and knowledge to work identifying new therapeutics for motor neuron diseases," added Dr. Vivian Berlin, Director Business Development in Harvard's Office of Technology Development.