Sanofi and Evotec to develop new treatments for diabetes

Sanofi will make an upfront payment of €3m to Evotec, which could potentially earn payments totalling more than €300m

French drugmaker Sanofi has entered into a strategic research collaboration with Evotec of Germany to develop beta cell-modulating diabetes treatments, which may reduce or eliminate the need for insulin injections. Beta cells play a key role in the pathogenesis of diabetes, a condition which currently affects 387 million patients worldwide.

The companies said the collaboration will further enhance and complement Sanofi’s extensive diabetes portfolio while extending Evotec’s metabolic disease and stem cell-based drug discovery programmes.

The partners will develop a beta cell replacement therapy based on functional human beta cells derived from human stem cells. They will also use human beta cells for high-throughput drug screening to identify beta cell active small molecules or biologics.

Under the agreement, Evotec will receive an upfront payment from Sanofi of €3m and could potentially earn development, regulatory and commercial milestone payments totalling more than €300m, in addition to royalties on net sales.

'Stem cell-based drug discovery and development is on the cutting edge of therapeutic innovation,' said Cord Dohrmann, Chief Scientific Officer of Evotec. 'We are very proud to partner with Sanofi, a company with a deep history in diabetes, in a truly complementary collaboration to enhance how this disease is treated in the future.'

Stem cell-based drug discovery and development is on the cutting edge of therapeutic innovation

In type 1 diabetes, beta cells are destroyed by the patient's own immune system. As a result, patients have to follow a life-long regimen of carefully dosed insulin injections. In type 2 diabetes (T2D), beta cells are functionally impaired. T2D is progressive, and current therapeutic options cannot prevent the deterioration of beta cell function, eventually creating a need for insulin injections, a significant burden to patients.

The beta cells cannot fully mimic the normal control of blood glucose levels by normal beta cells, which may result in short- and long-term complications. There is a significant medical need for new treatments that restore beta cell mass, reduce or eliminate the need for insulin injections and prevent or reverse the decline in beta cell function in type 2 diabetes patients.

Philip Larsen, Vice President, 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. We are excited about the prospects of this collaboration as both companies provide highly complementary expertise to translate human stem cell technologies into highly innovative new products.'

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