Sanofi-Aventis, Regeneron to develop biotech drugs

PARIS A French drug maker and a company in the United States will step up their efforts to develop biotech drugs derived from human cells.

Sanofi-Aventis and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals announced that they would expand their agreement to create and market monoclonal antibodies in a deal that will have Sanofi increasing its annual funding for the collaboration to $160 million between 2010 and 2017. The French pharmaceutical company had been pledging $100 million a year to the collaboration since it started, in November 2007.

The two companies hope to have four or five antibodies in clinical trials each year, developed using Regeneron’s VelocImmune drug development platform. Regeneron said it would also contribute its “next generation technologies,” but didn’t specify what those were. Antibodies currently in development include potential treatments for rheumatoid arthritis, pain and cancer.

“The first two years of our collaboration with Sanofi-Aventis have been extremely productive, with five VelocImmune human antibodies in or entering clinical development,” Regeneron president and CEO Leonard Schleifer said in a statement. “The expansion of our collaboration provides even greater resources over a longer time horizon and will boost our efforts to build a deep pipeline of new human antibody product candidates.”

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