Lead Pharma is a pharmaceutical company developing innovative medicines for the treatment of autoimmune diseases and cancer. It has entered into a research collaboration with big-shot Sanofi to develop small molecule therapies directed against the nuclear hormone receptor ROR gamma t (RORyt) to treat a broad range of autoimmune disorders. A big news for this Netherland-based Biotech company.

A wide range of human diseases are driven by deregulated immune function, including joint diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Often, these diseases are characterized by inappropriate activation of molecules termed cytokines, which are important mediators of normal immune function. When inappropriately activated, these powerful molecules can cause severe damage to multiple body systems. The RORyt is a key regulator of the cytokine immune pathway and its function can be moderated with small molecules, advancing this target to the cutting edge of drug discovery.

Christian Antoni, Vice President and Head of the Immunology & Inflammation Franchise, Research and Development at Sanofi, said: “With an estimated 25 million people in the U.S. alone affected by such a broad range of autoimmune disorders, a significant unmet medical need exists in the area, and anti-RORyt therapies represent a ground-breaking opportunity that we are eager and motivated to pursue through our collaboration with Lead Pharma.

Under the terms of the agreement, Lead Pharma will receive an upfront payment and is eligible to receive research, development, regulatory and commercial milestone payments. Further details of the financial terms have not been disclosed. 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 while Lead Pharma is entitled to receive royalty payments on global sales from any such products.

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In the meantime, rumours pointed Olivier Brandicourt, head of Bayer’s healthcare business, as Sanofi’s new CEO, although there is still no official news from the french company since the controversial redundacy of Chris Viehbacher, last October.

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