Evotec expands its Sanofi alliance with new $330m diabetes drug development deal

By Zachary Brennan

- Last updated on GMT

A photo of human beta cells, courtesy of Harvard
A photo of human beta cells, courtesy of Harvard

Related tags Insulin Protein Stem cell

Hamburg, Germany-based Evotec and Sanofi are launching a strategic collaboration in diabetes drug development that could be worth as much as $330m (€303m) for the German company, including €3m upfront.

The goal of the deal will be to develop a beta cell replacement therapy based on functional human beta cells derived from human stem cells. Beta cells play a key role in the development of diabetes as they reside in clusters of hormone producing cells within the pancreas and respond to elevated blood glucose levels by secreting the glucose-lowering hormone insulin.

Sanofi and Evotec will also look to use human beta cells for high-throughput drug screening to identify beta cell active small molecules or biologics.

Cord Dohrmann, Chief Scientific Officer of Evotec, said: "The use of human stem cells in drug discovery and development is on the rise and will increasingly shift the landscape from symptomatic treatments to disease-modifying therapies also in diabetes​."

This the second recent deal between Sanofi and Evotec​, which back in March forged a €250m drug discovery partnership that saw Evotec bring on a French R&D site and 200 employees.

Like the previous deal, both companies will make significant contributions to this new diabetes collaboration in terms of expertise, platforms and resources. Evotec previously reaped milestone awards​ from strategic partnerships with Bayer and Janssen Pharmaceuticals.

Philip Larsen, VP, Global Head of Diabetes Research and Translational Science at Sanofi, added: "Combining Sanofi's and Evotec's beta cell and stem cell expertise in drug discovery and development will enable optimal exploitation of the potential of stem cell derived human beta cells for therapy and drug screening in diabetes​."

Cancer Immunotherapies

Evotec, Apeiron Biologics, a biotech focusing on immunological approaches to treat cancer, also announced on Monday a strategic collaboration with Sanofi to develop novel small molecule-based cancer immunotherapies.

This collaboration will look to advance a first-in-class small molecule approach to treat solid and haematopoietic cancers by enhancing the anti-tumour activity of human lymphocytes. The agreement triggers two years of research payments for Evotec and Apeiron Biologics, with the opportunity to receive pre-clinical, clinical, regulatory and commercial milestones which could total over €200m as well as royalties upon commercialisation.

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