Sanofi has entered a research collaboration and license agreement with Evotec and Apeiron Biologics to discover and develop first-in-class small molecule-based immuno-oncology therapies to treat solid and hematological cancers by enhancing the anti-tumor activity of the human immune system.
“Immuno-oncology has emerged as a particularly promising field to create potentially curative treatment options for many cancer patients,” said Victoria Richon, Vice-President and Head of Cancer Research, Discovery and Early Development for Sanofi. “Partnering with Evotec and Apeiron Biologics will significantly advance our shared vision toward realizing the full value of these innovative small molecule treatments.”
Based on Evotec’s technological expertise and Apeiron Biologics’ experience with immunology, the new collaboration will focus on the identification of novel small molecules and their targets to develop next-generation therapies in immuno-oncology. These treatments are expected to complement currently available checkpoint inhibitors. The collaboration is based on the initial successful outcome of a phenotypic high throughput screen of potential compounds for development that was commissioned by Apeiron Biologics and conducted by Evotec. Under the collaboration, Sanofi has the option of screening its own compound libraries to identify new small molecule candidates for development.
“We are pleased and proud that our joint efforts in immuno-oncology with Apeiron have led to this partnership with Sanofi,” said Dr. Werner Lanthaler, Chief Executive Officer of Evotec. “The collaboration is a great example of an efficient translation from early-stage research to pharma development.”
“It is encouraging to see that our work, even at an early stage, can attract interest from one of the world’s leading, large biopharmaceutical companies,” said Dr. Hans Loibner, Chief Executive Officer of Apeiron Biologics. “We look forward to applying all the different skills and resources bundled in this collaboration for the benefit of this treatment concept and ultimately for the benefit of patients.”
Under the terms of the agreement, Sanofi will have sole responsibility for all development, regulatory, commercial and manufacturing activities of the products resulting from the collaboration. Sanofi will support two years of funding for Evotec and Apeiron to conduct the research program, which will include potential early success milestone payments. Upon continuation, as decided by Sanofi, Evotec will be entitled to receive further development, regulatory and commercial milestone payments, which could total more than €200 million, and royalties on net sales.
Immuno-oncology is a promising, emerging therapeutic approach to disease management in cancer. Research under way is aimed at understanding how the immune system itself can be powered to recognize and eliminate cancer cells. Although still in its early stages, immune-mediated therapies are showing the potential to dramatically improve outcomes for patients with certain types of cancer.
Sanofi, a global healthcare leader, discovers, develops and distributes therapeutic solutions focused on patients’ needs. Sanofi has core strengths in diabetes solutions, human vaccines, innovative drugs, consumer healthcare, emerging markets, animal health and Genzyme. Sanofi is listed in Paris (EURONEXT: SAN) and in New York (NYSE: SNY).