International healthcare leader, Sanofi, recently announced it has signed into a research collaboration and exclusive licensing agreement with Evotec and Apeiron Biologics, a biotech company with a focus on immunological approaches to treat cancer, to discover and advance first-in-class small molecule-based immuno-oncology treatments for solid and hematological cancers.
“Immuno-oncology has emerged as a particularly promising field to create potentially curative treatment options for many cancer patients,” said Victoria Richon, Vice-President and Head of Cancer Research, Discovery and Early Development for Sanofi. “Partnering with Evotec and Apeiron Biologics will significantly advance our shared vision toward realizing the full value of these innovative small molecule treatments.”
With Evotec’s technological edge and Apeiron Biologics’ specialization in immunology, this new partnership will aim to identify next generation treatments that can complement today’s available checkpoint inhibitors. The companies’ joint work will draw from the previous success of a phenotypic high throughput identification of potential compounds for further development, as commissioned by Apeiron and carried out by Evotec. Sanofi also has the option of selecting promising compounds from its own library of small molecule candidates.
“We are pleased and proud that our joint efforts in immuno-oncology with Apeiron have led to this partnership with Sanofi,” said Dr. Werner Lanthaler, Chief Executive Officer of Evotec. “The collaboration is a great example of an efficient translation from early-stage research to pharma development.”
“It is encouraging to see that our work, even at an early stage, can attract interest from one of the world’s leading, large biopharmaceutical companies,” said Dr. Hans Loibner, Chief Executive Officer of Apeiron Biologics. “We look forward to applying all the different skills and resources bundled in this collaboration for the benefit of this treatment concept and ultimately for the benefit of patients.”
The terms of the collaboration stipulate that Sanofi will retain responsibility for all development, regulatory, commercial and manufacturing needs of all products resulting from the collaboration. It will also provide 2 years worth of funding for Evotec and Apeiron, including early success milestone payments. If Sanofi decides to extend the collaboration, Evotec will be entitled to additional payments, which could amount to over €200 million, along with royalties on net sales.