News Feature | March 12, 2014

Sanofi And UCB To Discover And Develop AutoImmune Drugs

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By Estel Grace Masangkay

Sanofi and UCB have entered into a strategic and scientific partnership to try to discover and develop novel anti-inflammatory small molecules for potential treatment of a broad range of immune-mediated diseases.

The collaboration will focus on areas such as gastroenterology and arthritis. Dysregulated immune function is responsible for a wide range of human diseases that include joint diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease. These are often characterized by inappropriate activation of cytokine molecules which play a crucial part in normal immune function. Inappropriate activation of cytokines can cause manifestations ranging from mild skin rashes to severe organ failure and even death.

Dr. Elias Zerhouni, President of Global R&D at Sanofi, said “Immune-mediated diseases affect individuals, families, and communities and impact the economies of countries and nations, making this poorly understood category of diseases a significant public health burden. Joining efforts with UCB, we will address a scientific challenge in immunology, and increase the chances of accelerating the discovery and development of future therapies. ”

UCB’s research arm UCB NewMedicines was able to utilize a novel approach to identify small molecules modulators of a biological pathway. Parenterally administered biologic therapies using the approach have been observed to be highly effective in patients. A team of scientists will be organized under Sanofi and UCB to characterize and identify innovative potential therapies under the collaboration.

Ismail Kola, President of UCB NewMedicines, said “We partner Sanofi’s significant expertise, strong capabilities and resources with UCB’s cuttingedge research skills and breakthrough innovations. Together we can maximize the opportunity to treat diseases currently treated by biologic agents with small molecules and thus benefit millions of people suffering from severe diseases.”

The companies announced they will share costs and profits equally. In addition, UCB will be entitled to initial upfront, preclinical, and clinical development milestone payments possibly worth over € 100 million from Sanofi.

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