Cancer drug deal between sanofi-aventis and Avila Therapeutics potentially worth more than $800 million

As part of the research alliance, sanofi-aventis will work together with Avila to design targeted covalent drugs directed towards six signaling proteins that are critical in tumor cells

Jeffrey Bouley
WALTHAM, Mass.—Avila Therapeutics Inc. has announced the signing of a worldwide strategic alliance with France's sanofi-aventis to discover targeted covalent drugs for the treatment of cancers. Under the alliance agreement, sanofi-aventis obtains a worldwide exclusive license to develop and commercialize the compounds resulting from the discovery collaboration.

"Avila Therapeutics' expertise in designing targeted covalent drugs offers a new way to solve difficult pharmacological challenges in oncology and to address important cancer targets," says Dr. Debasish Roychowdhury, senior vice president and head of oncology for sanofi-aventis. "We believe that Avila's approach adds to our growing portfolio of research capabilities that will provide medicines which substantially improve patient outcomes."

Katrine Bosley, president and CEO of Avila Therapeutics, for her part, says that "sanofi-aventis has a clear vision to transform cancer research, and its commitment to innovation has been very tangible to us as we worked together to establish this alliance. This partnership directs the combination of our broadly relevant Avilomics platform and sanofi-aventis' oncology insights towards the goal of delivering best-in-class medicines for patients who are fighting serious diseases."

As part of the research alliance, sanofi-aventis will work together with Avila to design targeted covalent drugs directed towards six signaling proteins that are critical in tumor cells. The targets to be explored under the collaboration are difficult to approach with traditional pharmaceutical treatments, but are potentially amenable to Avila's targeted covalent drug technology. Under the terms of the agreement, for the selected targets sanofi-aventis will have access to Avila's proprietary Avilomics platform that offers what the companies say is a unique approach to "protein silencing" that cannot be achieved through traditional medicinal chemistry.

Avila has the opportunity to retain the rights to one of the six collaboration programs after the end of the initial three-year collaboration term and sanofi-aventis retains a right of first negotiation for such program should Avila decide to partner that program. Avila will receive up to $40 million in upfront and research support payments, and is eligible to receive preclinical, clinical and regulatory milestone payments up to $154 million per collaboration program if the respective product is approved in the United States, Europe and Japan. Avila may also receive staged royalties and commercial milestones on product sales in each of the programs advanced by sanofi-aventis.


Jeffrey Bouley

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