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Dana-Farber's Belfer Institute of Applied Cancer Science and sanofi-aventis establish a powerful cancer research alliance


Collaboration focused on identification and validation of novel cancer targets, discovery of novel therapeutics and associated biomarkers

Lynda Chin, MD

Lynda Chin, MD

Ronald DePinho

Ronald DePinho, MD

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute's Belfer Institute of Applied Cancer Science (Belfer Institute) and sanofi-aventis (EURONEXT: SAN and NYSE: SNY) announced today that they have entered into a collaboration and license option agreement to identify and validate novel oncology targets for further discovery and development by sanofi-aventis of novel therapeutics agents directed to such targets and related biomarkers.

Research at the Belfer Institute is focused on understanding the fundamental mechanisms of cancers, discovering and validating therapeutic targets and their clinical context in sophisticated model systems, enabling development of drug response biomarkers and supporting the discovery and development of innovative cancer treatments.

Belfer Institute and sanofi-aventis scientists will work jointly with the goal of discovering new anticancer drugs targeted at specific patient populations.

Under the terms of the agreement, Dana-Farber will receive $33 million in upfront and research funding for a minimum of three years. Dana-Farber will also be entitled to preclinical, clinical and commercial milestone payments and royalties on sales of commercial products.

In return, sanofi-aventis obtains exclusive access to certain components of a transformative cancer target identification and validation platform originally developed in the laboratory of Lynda Chin, MD, the Belfer Institute's scientific director, and will also harness the strong translational capabilities of the Belfer team.

"At the Belfer Institute, our mission is to enable the discovery of novel, more effective therapeutics for cancer patients. By combining our expertise in cancer genetics and translational medicine with sanofi-aventis' excellent drug discovery and development track record, this alliance has great potential to change the practice of cancer medicine," said Ronald DePinho, MD, director of Dana-Farber's Belfer Institute and professor of medicine and genetics at Harvard Medical School.

Giulio Draetta, MD, PhD, Dana-Farber's chief research business development officer and deputy director of the Belfer Institute, added "Our alliances with major pharmaceutical companies attest to our ability to be recognized as a partner in the translation of breakthrough discoveries into anti-cancer drugs. Our ability to integrate efforts at the Belfer Institute with those of other Dana-Farber's integrative research centers of excellence contributes to making our operations extremely efficient, providing a continuum of activities from discovery to clinical implementation."

"Translating research findings from academia to developing cancer drugs in the industry is a complex task that requires the collaboration of the best in the field," declared Debasish Roychowdhury, M.D., senior vice president, head of Global Oncology Division, sanofi-aventis. "We have an obligation to discover new medicines. This innovative collaboration structure with the Belfer Institute, an entirely novel organization, will strengthen sanofi-aventis Oncology's commitment to accomplish our goals."

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