Sanofi has forged a €130m (around $165m) alliance with fellow French company Oncodesign to find new kinase inhibitor drugs for a range of therapeutic indications.
Under the terms of the four-year deal, Oncodesign will use its proprietary Nanocyclix medical chemistry platform to discover and develop inhibitors against undisclosed kinase targets supplied by Sanofi, according to the two companies.
The top-line value of the deal is accounted for by an undisclosed upfront license fee and potential milestone payments, and the French technology firm also stands to receive a low single-digit royalty on sales.
The Nanocyclix platform uses a macrocyclisation chemical methodology to generate kinase inhibitor candidates "based on shape complementarity in the ATP binding site" of kinase enzymes, said Oncodesign.
That allows the creation of very selective inhibitors which do not cross react with other kinases even if they are structurally very similar.
The deal comes at a time when Sanofi is revamping its R&D operations with the aim of leading the industry in terms of bringing new drugs to market by 2015. Earlier this year, the company's R&D chief Elias Zerhouni said that a key part of that redesign is the formation of more partnerships with academia and other companies.
Sanofi has been working with Oncodesign since 2005, and cemented the relationship when they collaborated on the development of a series of experimental tissue-based cancer models in 2009.
The deal with Sanofi is a major coup for Oncodesign, which to date has signed smaller agreements with partners.
Earlier this year it started working with Ipsen on the development of new drugs for Parkinson's disease, while other customers include Spanish pharma company Ethical Oncology Science - which has reached the clinical trial stage with cancer drug candidate E-3810 - and Germany's Pieris AG which has taken PRS-050 in the clinic.
"This new agreement illustrates the leading position of Oncodesign in the kinase inhibitor field," said Oncodesign's chief scientific officer Jan Hoflack.