Merck KGaA has entrusted its R&D portfolio for inflammatory bowel diseases to a start-up Swiss company it's spinning out of the wreckage resulting from its R&D restructuring. A division of the German pharma company, Merck Serono, is seeding Calypso Biotech with more than $3 million and turning over supervision of its investment to the division's venture arm.
The company is being founded by Drs. Yolande Chvatchko and Alain Vicari, a pair of immunologists who will be pursuing the preclinical R&D antibody programs designed to target niche indications.
"Despite the efficacy of current treatments such as anti-TNF therapies, many patients suffering from inflammatory bowel diseases are experiencing dreadful and sometimes life-threatening complications. In addition, recent changes in our dietary habits have modified the relationships between our immune system and gut microbiota to an extent that we are just beginning to understand, leading to severe pathologies with no treatment options," said Chvatchko, co-founder of Calypso Biotech.
Calypso is the sixth startup biotech company to emerge from Merck Serono following the decision to close the sprawling R&D facility on Lake Geneva. Rather than simply lay off workers who weren't offered a chance to relocate, though, the German Merck set up a fund to help encourage staffers to start their own operations. More startups are expected to be announced in the near future and there's been an effort to make the facility into a new home for a regional R&D hub.
- here's the press release
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