Merck KGaA announces Elevian, an early-stage biotechnology firm in Allston, Massachusetts, as winner of the 2021 Advance Biotech Grant Program; Elevian's innovative recombinant protein has potential to accelerate stroke recovery

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DARMSTADT, Germany , January 21, 2022 (press release) –

The early-stage biotechnology company was selected for its innovative recombinant protein, which has the potential to accelerate ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke recovery.

  • Experts from the company’s M Lab™ Collaboration Center to provide production and scale-up training
  • Elevian to receive in-kind products for its treatment to support and improve stroke recovery
  • The company has awarded 39 Advance Biotech grants to 39 biotechnology companies since 2014

Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, a leading science and technology company, today announced that Elevian has been selected as the North American winner of its 2021 Advance Biotech Grant Program. The early-stage biotechnology company, which is based in Allston, Massachusetts, was selected for its innovative recombinant protein, which has the potential to accelerate ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke recovery.

“Strokes are the second leading cause of death worldwide,” said Andrew Bulpin, head of Process Solutions, Life Science at Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany. “We are pleased to support Elevian in the production and scale-up of its treatment to potentially support and improve stroke recovery.”

As part of the award, Elevian will receive in-kind products from the Life Science business sector, including the CHOZN® Expression Platform for selection and scale up, consultation services to help with upstream process development, and training provided by technical experts from the Emprove® team and the M Lab™ Collaboration Center.

Elevian is developing recombinant growth differentiation factor 11 (rGDF11) to improve recovery after stroke. rGDF11 has been demonstrated to promote functional recovery and regeneration in preclinical models of both ischemic1 and hemorrhagic2 stroke. Additionally, rGDF11 has been demonstrated to promote recovery and regeneration in preclinical models of multiple aging-related diseases including metabolic3, cardiovascular4, neurodegenerative5, and inflammatory6 diseases. Phase I clinical trials are expected to begin in early 2023.

“We are honored to have been selected as the winner of the Advance Biotech Grant,” said Dr. Mark Allen, CEO, Elevian. “The company’s extensive product portfolio, coupled with its process development and regulatory expertise will play a pivotal role in helping us scale up manufacturing of this potentially life-enhancing therapy, and we look forward to the collaboration.”

Since 2014, the Advance Biotech Grant Program of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, has awarded technologies and consultation to 39 biotechnology companies. These grants have been used to support biotech companies whose missions are to help patients suffering from cancer, brain tumors, osteoarthritis, and cardiovascular disorders.

To learn more about the program, visit:



Ma et al. 2018; Lu et al. 2018; Hudobenko et al. 2020
Anqi et al. 2019; Zhao et al. 2020
Lu et al. 2019; Katsimpardi et al. 2020; Walker et al. 2020
Loffredo et al. 2013; Poggioli et al. 2016; Harper et al. 2018; Du et al. 2017; Su et al. 2019
Zhang, Guo, et al. 2018
Mei et al. 2016; Wang, Qu, et al. 2019; Li et al. 2019; Wang et al. 2018; Onodera et al. 2017

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Dan Rivard
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