Evotec enters Immuno-Oncology and Diabetes Therapy with Help from Sanofi

Evotec had to announce a setback recently when its Alzheimer’s treatment in collaboration with Roche failed in Phase IIb. However, another strong partner on its side, Sanofi, never lost trust in the German biotech’s value. In the last three days, the French giant entered into two new projects with Evotec, which target diabetes and immuno-oncology. All in all, Evotec could cash in up to €500M.

In recent years, immuno-oncology has emerged as a particularly promising field to create potentially curative treatment options for many cancer patients. With this in mind, Sanofi, Evotec and the Austrian Apeiron Biologics AG joined forces. Together, they aim to treat solid and hematopoietic cancers by enhancing the anti-tumor activity of human lymphocytes.

Further, using Evotec’s drug discovery technology and Apeiron Biologic’s immunological know-how, the companies want to find new small molecule and their targets for next-generation therapies in immuno-oncology. These are expected to complement the current offerings of checkpoint inhibitors. Both companies share Sanofi’s promised milestone payments of up to €200M as well as potential royalties.

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Just three days ago, Sanofi had reported to partner with Evotec to jointly develop a next-generation diabetes therapy. Therefore, they focus on beta cells. In both types of diabetes, these cells are impaired or completely destroyed and can no longer respond to elevated blood glucose levels by secreting the glucose-lowering hormone insulin.

The new therapy should replace these impaired beta cells by functional cells derived from human stem cells. Sanofi and Evotec will also use these human beta cells to identify new small molecules targeting beta cells. Milestones payments to Evotec could total over €300M.

The collaboration between the two companies began back in 2014. Evotec started several drug discovery projects to the point of pre-clinical development candidates from which point Sanofi can choose to take over the development and commercialization. Back then, Sanofi further committed a Toulouse-based plant to Evotec, that provides additional 200 scientists to the company’s 650 employees. These are vital for Evotec to stem its growing assignments. Sanofi now enables Evotec to enter the hot area of immuno-oncology as well as diabetes, a disease that affects 387 million patients worldwide. Taken together, the French giant plays a key role in expanding Evotec’s pre-clinical pipeline and its whole business.

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