Sanofi-Aventis does deal with Avila

Sanofi-Aventis does deal with Avila

Avila Therapeutics, Inc., a privately held biotechnology company, will receive an upfront payment of up to $40 million from French drug maker Sanofi-aventis, as part of a research collaboration aimed at developing cancer drugs. Cambridge, Mass-based biotech will receive up to $154 million in milestone payments for any drug that is eventually approved. Waltham, Mass.-based Avila could also receive royalty payments if a treatment reaches the market.

The total value of the deal could be more than $800 million, but that’s only if all five of the research collaborations result in approved drugs, which would be unusual.

The announcement underscores Sanofi’s growing interest in acquiring and partnering with Massachusetts biotechnology companies, at it seeks to strengthen its position in biologics – cell-based drugs – versus pharmaceuticals, made from chemicals. Sanofi is locked in a four-month-long stalemate with Cambridge-based Genzyme Corp. (Nasdaq:GENZ), following an acquisition offer of $69 per share, which Genzyme says is too low. Sanofi revealed last week that less that one percent of Genzyme’s shares had been tendered so far.

Sanofi-aventis (NYSE: SNY) will obtain a worldwide exclusive license to develop and commercialize any potential drugs 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,” said Dr. Debasish Roychowdhury, the Head of Oncology at sanofi-aventis, in a statement. “We believe that Avila’s approach adds to our growing portfolio of research capabilities that will provide medicines which substantially improve patient outcomes.”

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 refusal if Avila decides it wants a partner to help develop that drug candidate.

Read more: Sanofi-Aventis does deal with Avila | Boston Business Journal

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