Sanofi signs regenerative medicines collaboration
Sanofi has signed a research pact with Audion Therapeutics to develop regenerative medicines for hearing loss.
The company’s two-year deal with Dutch biopharma firm Audion represents the first drug discovery programme focused on regenerating lost inner ear hair cells, which Sanofi says is the main cause of hearing loss.
Elias Zerhouni, president of global R&D at Sanofi, said: “Our new relationship with Audion demonstrates our commitment to work with partners on conditions with unmet and growing medical needs, such as hearing loss.
“This collaboration is a multi-disciplinary approach with our internal Aging Therapeutic Strategic Unit and our Early-to-Candidate Unit working together to advance novel therapies in the field of otolaryngology using the most advanced technologies available to study cochlear biology.”
Financial details of the collaboration were not disclosed, but Sanofi does have an option to license technology rights from Audion related to research conducted under the collaboration.
The small molecule research is still in a very early stage, but it could prove a lucrative venture, as there are currently no disease-modifying treatments for hearing loss.
It may be equally important for patients – the World Health Organization estimates around 500 million people worldwide suffer from some form of hearing loss.
The most common type is age-related hearing loss, and the number of people this effects is expected to rise dramatically to 900 million by 2050 as the global population ages.
Rolf Jan Rutten and Helmuth van Es, two of the founders of Audion, said the collaboration validates their thinking around developing small molecule regenerative drugs for the treatment of hearing loss.
“Sanofi’s interest in the hearing loss field plus its vast experience and infrastructure in small-molecule drug discovery make them the perfect partner to move this programme forward as diligently as possible,” they added.
Audion has technologies and molecules that come out of the work of one of its founders, Dr Albert Edge, from the world-renowned Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary.
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