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Sanofi-Aventis to collaborate with French biotech company on Alzheimer's disease

Published on 20/11/06 at 10:27am

Pharma company Sanofi-Aventis has entered into a research agreement with a major French biotech firm to study the role of specific forms of a key protein involved in Alzheimer's disease in a bid to create new treatments.

The initial two-year agreement is built on patents and research collaboration between Innogenetics and the French National Institute for Health and Medical Research, known as Inserm.

Based on the technology and products provided by Innogenetics and Inserm, Sanofi-Aventis will evaluate different products against diverse forms of the amyloid beta protein in a passive immunisation programme. Immunisation is passive when the body is deliberately given antibodies for a certain disease or illness, rather than allowing the body to produce them naturally, as in active immunisation.

Amyloid beta is part of a larger protein called amyloid precursor protein (APP). Scientists have long suggested that if too much amyloid beta protein is produced in the brain, it can cause clogging of cell-to-cell communication; killing the brain cells and eventually leading to Alzheimer's. This new research is aimed at preventing over-production of amyloid beta protein, in a bid to stop this process occurring in the first place.

In return for providing Sanofi-Aventis access to their technology and services, Innogenetics and Inserm will receive upfront and research fees. Details of the financial deal have not been disclosed. If Sanofi-Aventis eventually exercises its licence option, Innogenetics and Inserm will be entitled to milestone payments and royalties on future sales of therapeutic products resulting from the collaboration.

Frank Morich, chief executive of Innogenetics, said: "The combination of technologies and expertise from three different parties, each having outstanding know-how in their field,  creates a unique alliance. This joint effort will address a medical need in Alzheimer's disease and will add value for Innogenetics and its shareholders."

Founded in 1985 and based in Brussels, Innogenetics made sales of €18.6 million last year (2005). Its diagnostics division develops products in infectious diseases, genetic testing and neuro-degeneration.

The French National Institute for Health and Medical Research (Inserm) is the only French public research institute entirely devoted to biological, medical and public health research. It employs 13,000 scientists working in more than 360 research units and 41 clinical investigation centres across France, created in partnership with local hospitals.

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