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Sanofi and Regeneron extend partnership to cancer

Sanofi will pay more than $2bn to the firm for immunotherapy research

Sanofi 

Sanofi will pay up to $2.2bn to its long-term biotech partner Regeneron to research and market new immunotherapies in cancer.

The two firms, which already co-develop and market the newly approved PCKS9 cholesterol drug Praluent (alirocumab), will work together on early-stage testing of a PD-1 drug candidate for undisclosed targets.

Sanofi will make an upfront payment to Regeneron of $640m and the companies will invest $1bn for discovery through proof of concept development of monotherapy and combinations of immuno-oncology antibody candidates, to be funded 25% by Regeneron ($250m) and 75% by Sanofi ($750m).

The companies have also committed to equally fund an additional $650m for development of REGN2810, a PD-1 inhibitor.

In addition, Sanofi will pay to Regeneron a one-time milestone of $375m in the event that sales of a PD-1 product and any other collaboration antibody sold for use in combination with a PD-1 product exceed, in the aggregate, $2bn in any consecutive 12-month period.

Finally, the two companies have agreed to re-allocate $75m (over three years) for immuno-oncology antibodies from Sanofi's $160m annual contribution to their existing antibody collaboration, which otherwise continues as announced in November 2009.

George Yancopoulos, chief scientific officer at Regeneron and president of Regeneron Laboratories, said: “"We believe the approaches most likely to deliver the best results to patients will combine multiple innovative therapies acting on different pathways and targets both in the tumor and the body's immune response - and precisely target these medicines to the right patient.”

Elias Zerhouni, president of global R&D at Sanofi, said: “With more than eight years of successful collaboration between us [Regeneron], I am confident in our ability to advance these novel programs. In addition to PD-1, the collaboration brings together a range of validated, innovative pre-clinical programs that have unique potential to help patients either as monotherapy or in combination approaches.”

The French firm is jumping on the pharma bandwagon, with almost every other major company already having research deals in place for this oncology market that is set to be worth $30bn by 2020.

Sanofi and Regeneron are however very late to this field. Merck & Co and Bristol-Myers Squibb are the current leaders with two products - Keytruda (pembrolizumab) and Opdivo (nivolumab) respectively - already on the market for melanoma and certain forms of lung cancer.

These drugs, known as PD-1 inhibitors, are a new brand of immunotherapy that helps teach the body how to kill cancerous cells.

AstraZeneca and Roche are also hoping to gain approval for their PD-1 and PD-L1 drugs in the coming two years after recent positive trial results.

Article by
Ben Adams

28th July 2015

From: Research

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