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Sanofi forms antibiotic research partnership

Will team up with Germany’s Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft to develop naturally-derived substances
Sanofi reception

Sanofi has teamed up with the German research organisation Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft to collaborate on the discovery of natural antibiotic treatments.

The newly-formed Fraunhofer Natural Product Center of Excellence will involve scientists from French pharma company Sanofi working with Fraunhofer's Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology (IME) to identify naturally occurring chemical or biological compounds that could be used to treat infectious diseases.

Naturally-occurring compounds have proven fruitful in the past in the development of antibiotics, with penicillin based on a natural fungus.

There is a great need for new treatments, however, as antimicrobial resistance is growing across the world due in part to the increased prevalence of antibiotics and the rise of multidrug-resistant bacteria.

As part of the agreement Sanofi will share its collection of microbe strains, which it describes as one of the 'world's largest' consisting of more than 100,000 different micro-organisms, including viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites.

This collection will be made available to scientists from Fraunhofer IME, which specialises in applied research involving naturally-occurring molecules in the ecosystem.

Led by Prof Peter Hammann of Sanofi and Prof Andreas Vilcinskas of Fraunhofer IME, researchers will analyse the genetic make-up of the different micro-organisms, cultivate them under various conditions and then stimulate them to produce active substances that can potentially be the basis for medicines.

Sanofi has several other antimicrobial resistance programmes in place and is involved in the New Drugs for Bad Bugs collaboration with GlaxoSmithKline, AstraZeneca, Janssen and Basilea as part of the Innovative Medicines Initiatve (IMI).

Sanofi is also working with the biotech Rib-X Pharmaceuticals to research new classes of antibiotic therapies in a deal worth almost $200m.

It isn't just infections that Sanofi is looking to target as part of its partnership with Fraunhofer IME, however, with diabetes, pain and rare diseases all noted by the company as potential therapy areas were naturally-derived substances have proven to play a role in treatment.

Article by
Thomas Meek

16th January 2014

From: Research

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