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S-A/ Avila sign oncology drug deal

Sanofi-aventis has announced a worldwide strategic alliance with Avila Therapeutics focusing on the discovery of covalent drugs for cancers

Sanofi-aventis (S-A) has announced a worldwide strategic alliance with Avila Therapeutics focusing on the discovery of covalent drugs for use in oncology treatments.

The deal allows S-A to obtain a global licence to develop and market compounds resulting from the partnership. Avila will receive up to $40m in upfront and support payments, with milestone payments of up to $154m per collaboration programme also available if the developed product is approved in the US, Europe and Japan.

There will be six collaboration programmes in total, with the companies working together using Avila's Avilomics platform to design products which aim to target one of six signalling proteins that are critical in tumour cells.

These proteins are difficult to target with conventional pharmaceutical treatments, but are thought to have the potential to respond to covalent drugs.

Covalent treatments have the ability to establish a stronger molecular bond than conventional therapies, allowing them to shut down the activity of proteins responsible for certain diseases. This technique is called 'protein silencing'.

"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," said Dr Debasish Roychowdhury, senior vice president and head of oncology, S-A. "We believe that Avila's approach adds to our growing portfolio of research capabilities that will provide medicines which substantially improve patient outcomes."

20th December 2010

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