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Sanofi signs new oncology research deals

Published on 20/12/10 at 11:07am

Sanofi-Aventis has signed two new cancer research deals, including one that will see it partner with Avila Therapeutics to discover targeted covalent drugs.

Covalent drugs are thought to have prolonged duration and be targeted and effective against disease mutations. They do this by establishing a strong and enduring ‘bond’ to completely shut down the activity of, and silence, a disease-causing protein.

Sanofi will work with Avila to design covalent drugs targeting six signaling proteins that are critical in tumour cells, and will pay the US, Massachusetts-based biotech up to $40 million in upfront and research support payments

Sanofi’s head of oncology Debasish Roychowdhury said: “Avila Therapeutics’ expertise in designing targeted covalent drugs offers a new way to solve difficult pharmacological challenges in oncology and to address important cancer targets.

“We believe that Avila’s approach adds to our growing portfolio of research capabilities that will provide medicines which substantially improve patient outcomes.”

Under the terms of the worldwide agreement, Sanofi will also have access to Avila’s proprietary Avilomics platform that offers a novel approach to protein silencing that cannot be achieved through traditional medicinal chemistry.

In turn Avila will receive pre-clinical, clinical and regulatory milestone payments up to $154 million per collaboration programme if a product is approved in the US, Europe and Japan.

Katrine Bosley, president and chief executive of Avila Therapeutics, said: “Sanofi-Aventis has a clear vision to transform cancer research, and its commitment to innovation has been very tangible to us as we worked together to establish this alliance.

“This partnership directs the combination of our broadly relevant Avilomics platform and Sanofi-Aventis’ oncology insights towards the goal of delivering best-in-class medicines for patients who are fighting serious diseases.”

Sanofi signs Indian cancer research deal

Meanwhile, Sanofi has entered into a separate collaboration with Oxford University to conduct cancer research in India.

The partners will conduct multi-phase oncology clinical and translational research with INDOX, India’s leading academic oncology network.

Under the agreement Sanofi will provide financial support to Oxford University to manage the INDOX network of eight leading cancer-research centers across India.

The University will in turn provide training and support to investigators and research coordinators to help ensure that each centre has the capacity, expertise and infrastructure to perform through the clinical trial process. 

Shailesh Ayyangar, Sanofi’s managing director for India, said the company’s work with INDOX would “help build clinical research capabilities in the field of oncology” in the country.

Ben Adams

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