HAMBURG, Germany—After a third quarter full of new partnerships, Evotec AG is kicking off Q4 the same way, having announced a new initiative with pharma giant Sanofi via a newly created BRIDGE called LAB031. The initiative will seek to accelerate drug discovery in a number of indications, and will provide Evotec with the resources to “enter research collaborations with academic institutions worldwide to collaborate on early-stage translational projects addressing indications in disease areas with a high unmet medical need,” according to a company press release. The program will run over the course of three years, during which Evotec and Sanofi will work to generate and develop several small-molecule programs through lead optimization.
“This BRIDGE announced today is another strategic expansion of Evotec’s relationship with Sanofi. Supporting academic initiatives globally through BRIDGEs is designed to enable Evotec to validate translational ideas more efficiently,” Dr. Werner Lanthaler, CEO of Evotec, said in a press release.
Evotec's BRIDGE initiatives began in 2016. Evotec describes this program as “Innovative public-private partnerships that combine core strengths of academia, biotech and venture capital with strong links into Pharma ‘under one roof.’ BRIDGEs are initiatives designed to accelerate multiple translational projects across therapeutic areas to preclinical proof of concept or other major value inflection points.” Evotec established the first BRIDGE, LAB282, with the University of Oxford and Oxford Sciences Innovation, and the second—LAB150— with MaRS Innovation in Toronto. A third, LAB591, was launched with Arix Bioscience and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
No financial terms were disclosed, but Evotec reported that it will leverage its discovery technologies to support this work. The company's range of drug discovery services includes target identification and validation, in-silico drug discovery, chemistry, DMPK and ADME-tox, hit identification and more. Evotec also offers INDiGO, which it says “accelerates early drug candidates into the clinic by reducing time from nomination to regulatory submission in 52 weeks, and under circumstances, even less. We achieve accelerated development by tightly integrating traditional drug silos into a single project managed under one roof. The program has been proven to reduce time and cost while achieving a quality data package for CTA/IND level regulatory filings.”
For its part, Sanofi has the option under this initiative to assume development responsibility for each program on the achievement of agreed-upon milestones.
“We are pleased to expand our relationship with Evotec and establish LAB031. Sanofi is focused on identifying the best resources available in order to translate academic innovation into clinical assets,” commented Shiv Krishnan, Head of Technology Platforms, Global Business Development & Licensing, at Sanofi.
In other recent news for Sanofi, the company closed September with the announcement that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had approved its drug Libtayo (cemiplimab-rwlc) for the treatment of patients with metastatic cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (CSCC) or locally advanced CSCC who aren't candidates for curative surgery or curative radiation. This makes Libtayo the first—and only—treatment specifically approved for this indication in the United States. Libtayo will be jointly marketed in the United States by Regeneron and Sanofi Genzyme, Sanofi's specialty care global business unit.
“In the U.S., CSCC accounts for one in five skin cancers, and the number of new diagnoses is increasing,” said Dr. Olivier Brandicourt, CEO of Sanofi. “We believe Libtayo has the potential to make a difference for U.S. patients with advanced CSCC, as it helps to fill a critical gap in treatment options. We are committed to bringing this important medicine to patients in other countries around the world as quickly as possible.”
Libtayo is also being evaluated as a treatment for 10 other cancer types, including non-small cell lung cancer, basal cell carcinoma, cervical cancer, squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck, melanoma, colorectal cancer, prostate cancer, multiple myeloma, Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.