Sanofi has signed an alliance with the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), to research potential new therapies for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
The deal, worth $3.1m for the US university, is the third such alliance between the two parties since their January 2011 master agreement on working together to translate academic science into potential new therapies.
This agreement made Sanofi the first company to be involved with UCSF's Programme for Breakthrough Biomedical Research (PBBR), which offers funding to projects of potentially high impact, greater creativity and with an innovative approach to scientific discovery.
The two previous agreements have seen the French pharma company and UCSF conduct research into brain trauma and oncology, with both programmes still ongoing.
The latest collaboration will see researchers from UCSF, with expertise in the biology of beta cells, team up with Sanofi scientists, to develop potential drug candidates into actual therapies.
Potential drug targets from a UCSF library of around 100,000 small interference RNA (siRNA) molecules will be assessed to analyse what effect they have on human genes and Sanofi compounds that might be effective in regulating siRNAs will also be studied for therapeutic potential.
It is the first partnership effort for UCSF's Diabetes Center that goes beyond funding, involving scientists from both sides in joint research efforts.
"This is a true partnership between scientists with very different strengths," said Dr Matthias Hebrok, director of the UCSF Diabetes Center.
"UCSF is known for its deep understanding of the underlying biology of diabetes, while Sanofi has great expertise in screening compounds, identifying which molecules have potential, and moving them along to develop a new drug.”