Sanofi, Lead Pharma Partner
Sanofi has entered into a research collaboration and license agreement with Dutch biotech Lead Pharma to discover, develop, and commercialize small-molecule therapies directed against the nuclear hormone receptors called ROR gamma t to treat a broad range of autoimmune disorders, including rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and inflammatory bowel disease.
Under the agreement, Sanofi and Lead Pharma will collaborate during the early phase of research and development with a goal of identifying drug candidates and beginning human trials within three to four years. Lead Pharma will receive an upfront payment and is eligible to receive research, development, regulatory, and commercial milestone payments. Sanofi will be responsible for clinical development and will have worldwide marketing and commercialization rights to any products that may be developed as a result of the collaboration. Lead Pharma is entitled to receive royalty payments on global sales from any such products. Further details of the financial terms have not been disclosed.
The nuclear receptor retinoic acid receptor-related orphan receptor gamma, also known as ROR gamma t or ROR gamma (t), is a key regulator of the cytokine immune pathway, interleukin (IL)-17, which lead to the differentiation of T cells to a pro-inflammatory subtype of T helper cells called Th17. As such, ROR gamma (t) drives the production of key pro-inflammatory proteins including IL-17A, IL-17F and the receptor for IL-23. Clinical studies validating the critical role of the IL-17 pathway in chronic autoimmune-related inflammation is growing. Recent findings that show the biological function of ROR gamma (t) can be moderated with small molecules have propelled this target in drug discovery, according to information from Sanofi.