PARIS, June 16, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — Sanofi (EURONEXT: SAN and NYSE: SNY) announced today that it has entered into a two-year research collaboration with the biopharmaceutical company Audion Therapeutics (Audion) to develop potential treatments for hearing loss through the optimization of small molecules by using a regenerative medicine approach.
(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20110616/NY20158LOGO )
This collaborative research will utilize technology developed at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in the Eaton-Peabody Laboratory, one of the world’s largest basic research facilities dedicated to the study of hearing and deafness, by investigator and Audion co-founder Dr. Albert Edge, who has strong expertise in stem cells and inner ear biology. Audion licensed Dr. Edge’s technology from Mass Eye and Ear. Under the terms of the agreement, Sanofi has an option to license technology rights from Audion related to research conducted under the collaboration.
“We are very excited about this collaboration with Sanofi that validates our thinking around developing small molecule regenerative drugs for the treatment of hearing loss,” said RolfJan Rutten and Helmuth van Es, founders of Audion Therapeutics. “Sanofi’s interest in the hearing loss field plus its vast experience and infrastructure in small-molecule drug discovery make them the perfect partner to move this program forward as diligently as possible.”
“Our new relationship with Audion demonstrates our commitment to work with partners on conditions with unmet and growing medical needs, such as hearing loss,” said Elias Zerhouni, M.D., President, Global Research & Development, Sanofi. “This collaboration is a multi-disciplinary approach with our internal Aging Therapeutic Strategic Unit and our Early-to-Candidate Unit working together to advance novel therapies in the field of otolaryngology using the most advanced technologies available to study cochlear biology.”
About Sanofi R&D
As part of Sanofi’s new R&D model, five Therapeutic Strategic Units (TSUs) were created with a focus on major patho-physiologies, pressing public health needs or major geographic areas: Aging, Fibrosis & Wound Repair, Immuno-Inflammation, Infectious Diseases and the Asia-Pacific Unit. The Aging Unit aims to treat age-related diseases globally, to provide practical integrated healthcare solutions for the elderly as well as to sustain their functional well-being. Sanofi’s Early-to-Candidate Unit’s core mission is to adopt higher risk, innovative and validated concepts and early-stage leads either from its own internal research or through strategic partnerships with academics and biotechnology companies.
About Hearing Loss
Hearing loss is the most prevalent inner ear disorder and the World Health Organization estimates that 500 million people worldwide have a mild to moderate to severe or greater hearing loss. Of people aged 65 to 74, nearly 33 percent have hearing loss and close to 50 percent of people over the age of 75 are affected. Of people over the age of 85, almost everyone is affected to some extent. Estimates are that the number of people in the world with age-related hearing loss is expected to increase to 900 million by 2050. However, the incidence is rising rapidly among younger people as well, due to frequent exposure to excessive noise. Estimates from the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention place the total annual costs of hearing loss at approximately $50 billion per year in the U.S. alone. There are currently no prescription products for a disease modifying treatment for hearing loss.
About Audion Therapeutics
Audion Therapeutics is a private biopharmaceutical company based in Amsterdam that is dedicated to the discovery, development and commercialization of drugs and delivery technologies for the treatment of diseases affecting the ear including hearing loss. Audion, which was founded by Albert Edge, Helmuth van Es and Rolf Jan Rutten, has technologies and molecules that originated from Albert Edge’s research at the Mass Eye and Ear and then were exclusively licensed to Audion. For more information please visit www.audiontherapeutics.com.
About Mass Eye and Ear
The Mass Eye and Ear is a specialty hospital providing outstanding patient care for disorders of the eye, ear, nose, throat, head and neck. Mass Eye and Ear is an international leader in hearing loss research and a teaching partner of Harvard Medical School. For more information please visit www.MassEyeAndEar.org.
Sanofi, a global and diversified healthcare leader, discovers, develops and distributes therapeutic solutions focused on patients’ needs. Sanofi has core strengths in the field of healthcare with seven growth platforms: diabetes solutions, human vaccines, innovative drugs, rare diseases, consumer healthcare, emerging markets and animal health. Sanofi is listed in Paris (EURONEXT: SAN) and in New York (NYSE: SNY).
Forward Looking Statements
This press release contains forward-looking statements as defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, as amended. Forward-looking statements are statements that are not historical facts. These statements include projections and estimates and their underlying assumptions, statements regarding plans, objectives, intentions and expectations with respect to future financial results, events, operations, services, product development and potential, and statements regarding future performance. Forward-looking statements are generally identified by the words “expects”, “anticipates”, “believes”, “intends”, “estimates”, “plans” and similar expressions. Although Sanofi’s management believes that the expectations reflected in such forward-looking statements are reasonable, investors are cautioned that forward-looking information and statements are subject to various risks and uncertainties, many of which are difficult to predict and generally beyond the control of Sanofi, that could cause actual results and developments to differ materially from those expressed in, or implied or projected by, the forward-looking information and statements. These risks and uncertainties include among other things, the uncertainties inherent in research and development, future clinical data and analysis, including post marketing, decisions by regulatory authorities, such as the FDA or the EMA, regarding whether and when to approve any drug, device or biological application that may be filed for any such product candidates as well as their decisions regarding labeling and other matters that could affect the availability or commercial potential of such products candidates, the absence of guarantee that the products candidates if approved will be commercially successful, the future approval and commercial success of therapeutic alternatives, the Group’s ability to benefit from external growth opportunities as well as those discussed or identified in the public filings with the SEC and the AMF made by Sanofi, including those listed under “Risk Factors” and “Cautionary Statement Regarding Forward-Looking Statements” in Sanofi’s annual report on Form 20-F for the year ended December 31, 2010. Other than as required by applicable law, Sanofi does not undertake any obligation to update or revise any forward-looking information or statements.