The US biotech firm has announced that it will now be working on a research and development collaboration with Johns Hopkins University in the hunt for new drug candidates that may eventually be used to treat neurodegenerative diseases such as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. The new partnership will be based at the university's newly created Brain Science Institute and will initially place its focus on two programmes, with an expected expansion to additional programs over time, the organisations said. "Johns Hopkins is home to over 600 staff members and scientists who are focused on the neurosciences… which complements our strength in neurological drug development," said Al Sandrock, senior vice president of neurology research and development, Biogen Idec. "This collaboration is part of Biogen Idec's long-term commitment to discovering treatments for neurological diseases with a high unmet medical need." CNS drugs are a potentially lucrative market - in a presentation to investors last month, Biogen said it expects its two currently-marketed MS drugs to fuel a 15 per cent annual growth in revenue in the next three years. This latest partnership aims to ensure a healthy pipeline in the field. However, neurologics is not the company's only current area of interest. Just last week it was revealed that Biogen would also begin working with LigoCyte Pharmaceuticals to develop therapies for chronic inflammatory diseases. Specifically the two companies will attempt to create drugs that target CD103, an integrin that is highly expressed at mucosal sites and considered to play a role in controlling the lymphocytes that mediate mucosal-related inflammation, manifesting in diseases of the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and autoimmune systems. As part of the co-development, co-commercialisation relationship, LigoCyte would be eligible for milestone payments if successful drug candidates are developed and also entitled to a share of the spoils from any that make it to market. Meanwhile, Biogen recently decided to enter the burgeoning Indian market, opening a small office there in August in order to assess the potential new business opportunities in India, Jose Juves, director of public affairs at Biogen told Biopharma-reporter.com.