Ascenta Therapeutics announced today the signing of a global collaboration and licensing agreement with sanofi-aventis covering several early-stage agents being investigated for their potential to restore tumor cell apoptosis (programmed cell death). These orally-active, small-molecule drug candidates inhibit the interaction between HDM2 (Human Double Minute 2) and p53, removing a block to normal p53 tumor suppressor function and potentially enhancing cancer control and treatment.
Under the terms of the agreement, Ascenta Therapeutics has given sanofi-aventis an exclusive worldwide license to develop, manufacture, nd commercialize all compounds issued from this program. In return, Ascenta will receive an upfront payment, as well as development, regulatory and commercial milestone payments that could reach a total of $398 million. In addition, Ascenta is eligible to receive tiered royalties on worldwide product sales.
The agreement includes two agents that Ascenta Therapeutics previously in-licensed from the University of Michigan, MI-773 and MI-519-64, which should soon enter preclinical development. Both Ascenta Therapeutics and sanofi-aventis will continue to fund research on these targets at the University of Michigan, and Ascenta Therapeutics may participate in ongoing research activities and potential future clinical development.
“Ascenta’s mission since its founding has been to discover and develop novel small molecules that can trigger apoptosis in cancer cells. Sanofi-aventis has a great record of bringing innovative cancer therapies like these to cancer patients around the world,” said Mel Sorensen, M.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of Ascenta Therapeutics. “Restoring tumor suppressor function through the inhibition of the HDM2-p53 interaction offers the potential to control and prevent cancer progression. We are delighted to have sanofi-aventis join us and the University of Michigan in this endeavor to turn exciting science into novel cancer medicines.”