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Sanofi and Merck Serono to collaborate in oncology

Published on 17/12/10 at 11:56am
Sanofi-Aventis HQ
Sanofi will put two phase I candidates to Merck Serono's one into the collaboration

Sanofi-Aventis and Merck Serono are to join forces to study three new cancer drug candidates.

The collaboration will see the companies launch new phase I trials of the drugs in combination, with the hope that their combined effects will make them a more effective treatment.

Cancer is increasingly being treated by targeting multiple disease targets at once, and these combinations will mean at least three pathways will be targeted.

The novel combinations involve Merck Serono’s MEK inhibitor MSC1936369B, Sanofi Aventis’ PI3K/mTOR inhibitor SAR245409 and class I PI3K inhibitor SAR245408. All three drugs are already in phase I development as single treatments.

The collaboration will see each party initially responsible for conducting a phase I dose escalation study of the candidates.

Sanofi-Aventis will be granted a research and development license for MSC1936369B to assess safety and initial clinical activity in combination with SAR245408. Meanwhile Merck Serono will study SAR245409 in combination with MSC1936369B.

“In the spirit of personalising and stratifying cancer care, it is a logical step to combine new exciting molecules across pipelines and companies early on, to explore combined activity against cancer pathways,” said Dr Wolfgang Wein, executive vice president for oncology at Merck Serono. “We expect a strong synergy between both oncology units in driving the projects forward.”

“This collaboration reinforces our commitment to maximise our portfolio and to provide better treatments for patients with cancer” said Debasish Roychowdhury, senior vice president, head of global oncology, Sanofi-Aventis. “Combining these two promising molecules makes eminent sense and we are excited to partner with Merck Serono.”

The deal is very similar to a collaboration between AstraZeneca and the US pharma company Merck announced in 2009.

MSC1936369B is an experimental selective inhibitor of protein kinases MEK1 and MEK2 (MAP/ERK kinase 1 and 2) effectively blocking downstream protein signaling.

Sanofi’s SAR245408 is an inhibitor of class I PI3K (Phosphoinositol 3 Kinase). SAR245409 is a dual inhibitor of PI3K and mTOR (mammalian Target of Rapamycin).

Andrew McConaghie

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