Gene Research Helping
Multiple Sclerosis Treatment


In 1978, Dr. Walter Gilbert of Harvard, who was awarded a Nobel Prize in 1980 for his method for decoding DNA, and Dr. Phillip Sharp of MIT, who received a Nobel Prize in 1993 for his discovery of split genes, were members of a group of international biologists who sparked the formation of a new kind of pharmaceutical company. Each of these researchers was a leader in a new field of science called genetic engineering. The new company's goal was to use research on human genes to improve healthcare. Biogen was born.

Biogen, in Cambridge's "Genetown," is the world's oldest independent biopharmaceutical company. Its early research led to the first effective treatment for hepatitis B and C, and to a vaccine against hepatitis B. Biogen developed Avonex, which is widely used in the treatment of multiple sclerosis to slow down the progression of the disease and reduce the number of disease flareups. Approved by the FDA in 2003, Amevive is the first biologic drug approved to treat psoriasis.

Biogen recently merged with Idec Pharmaceutical Corporation of San Diego. The headquarters of the newly merged firm is in "Genetown."