News Feature | August 19, 2014

Sanofi Licenses 2 Respiratory Drugs To ZAI Lab

By Estel Grace Masangkay

Shanghai-based drug development firm ZAI Lab announced that it has signed into a global licensing agreement with Sanofi to obtain rights to two novel compounds which are potential treatments for chronic respiratory diseases.

The two compounds are being developed to treat chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). Sanofi recently wrapped up the two investigational drugs’ preclinical development before the time of the transaction. ZAI Lab will be responsible for further development costs of its newly in-licensed compounds and will pay Sanofi development and approval milestones. Sanofi will also be eligible to receive tiered royalties from global net sales. No specific financial terms of the agreement were disclosed by either company.

The World Health Organization ranks chronic respiratory diseases as the second leading cause of death in China, attributed to a fatal combination of tobacco smoking and increasing levels of air pollution. Earlier this year Dr. Bai Chunxue, head of respiratory medicine at Shanghai's Zhongshan Hospital, said in a Telegraph UK article, “If air pollution is not reduced we will have more and more respiratory disease, including lung cancer, COPD, asthma, and even pneumonia and also heart disease, coronary heart disease.” Dr. Bai singled out fine dust particles as major culprits behind both respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses. According to data compiled by ChinaBio, more than 40 million people in China past the age of 40 suffer from COPD today, with the disease expected to cause 65 million deaths between 2003 and 2033.

Dr. Samantha Du, Founder and CEO of ZAI Lab, said that the company is geared toward developing novel drugs to treat life-threatening medical conditions including chronic respiratory diseases. “Chronic respiratory diseases, such as COPD and asthma, are becoming a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in China with no effective treatments. By working with Sanofi, ZAI Lab intends to initiate the development activities to bring effective therapies to patients globally.”