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Sanofi and AstraZeneca form cancer research alliances with non-profits

Will work respectively with Curie Institute in France and Cancer Research UK

Sanofi, AstraZeneca, Curie Cancer, Cancer Research UK

Sanofi yesterday said it is to work with the French research centre the Curie Institute to identify targets for the development of treatments for ovarian cancer.

The pharma company will work with the Institute's Curie-Cancer arm, which specialises in industry partnerships, as part of a three-year collaboration that aims to “revisit the basic biology” of ovarian cancer.

Sanofi will make use of the Curie Institute's collection of frozen tumour samples to better understand the molecular alterations present in different types of ovarian cancer.

This will be achieved by sequencing molecules expressed by the tumour genome and then comparing these results to molecules from non-tumour tissues.
Sanofi can then identify potential biological targets and develop compounds personalised to inhibit or stimulate them depending on the specific need.

Damien Salauze, director of Curie-Cancer, explained the need to develop new treatments for ovarian cancer, which remains a difficult-to-treat disease with late diagnosis and frequent replaces.

"It is hard currently to tackle ovarian cancer, and there are very few drugs available,” he said.

Sanofi's own efforts in ovarian cancer have faltered in recent months, as it discontined the development of ombrabulin in the condition and posted negative phase II trial results for iniparib.

Zaltrap (ziv-aflibercept) has also faltered in trials investigating its use in ovarian cancer, despite more positives results in other cancers.

"We hope this type of long-term collaboration will ultimately open up perspectives for new therapeutic options for women with this disease,” said Debasish Roychowdhury, senior VP and head of Sanofi Oncology on the partnership with Curie-Cancer.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

AstraZeneca forms oncology partnership with Cancer Research UK
AstraZeneca (AZ) has also been busy forming oncology partnerships, agreeing last week to work with both research charity Cancer Research UK and the University of Manchester.

In one of two deals agreed, AZ will collaborate with scientists at the Cancer Research UK Paterson Institute for Cancer Research at the University of Manchester to develop new drugs to target a key protein involved in DNA damage response.

AZ has first rights to the molecules discovered through the agreement and the ability to choose to continue further development after the agreement. Cancer Research Technology, Cancer Research UK's commercial arm, will receive royalty patients on any drugs developed and has the option to develop molecules declined by AZ.

In the second deal, Cancer Research UK scientists are invited to test potential drug targets against AZ's compound collection at Alderley Park in what the company describes as the first time an external party has been invited to screen such an extensive set of compounds within its screening facility.

Cancer Research UK scientists at the Paterson Institute will then have the opportunity to develop compounds to a certain stage, upon which AZ will have first rights of negotiation on any promising drug targets.

20th June 2013

From: Research

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