Sanofi-aventis and Avila Therapeutics Sign Global Alliance to Develop Targeted Covalent Oncology Drugs

First covalent drug discovery partnership exploring multiple cancer targets

WALTHAM, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Avila Therapeutics, Inc. announced today that it has signed a worldwide strategic alliance with sanofi-aventis (EURONEXT: SAN and NYSE: SNY) to discover targeted covalent drugs for the treatment of cancers. Under the alliance agreement sanofi-aventis obtains a worldwide exclusive license to develop and commercialize the compounds resulting from the discovery collaboration.

“Avila Therapeutics’ expertise in designing targeted covalent drugs offers a new way to solve difficult pharmacological challenges in oncology and to address important cancer targets,” said Debasish Roychowdhury, M.D., Senior Vice President and Head of Oncology, sanofi-aventis. “We believe that Avila’s approach adds to our growing portfolio of research capabilities that will provide medicines which substantially improve patient outcomes.”

“Sanofi-aventis has a clear vision to transform cancer research, and its commitment to innovation has been very tangible to us as we worked together to establish this alliance,” said Katrine Bosley, President and Chief Executive Officer of Avila Therapeutics. “This partnership directs the combination of our broadly relevant Avilomics™ platform and sanofi-aventis’ oncology insights towards the goal of delivering best-in-class medicines for patients who are fighting serious diseases.”

As part of the research alliance, sanofi-aventis will work together with Avila to design targeted covalent drugs directed towards six signaling proteins that are critical in tumor cells. The targets to be explored under the collaboration are difficult to approach with traditional pharmaceutical treatments, but are potentially amenable to Avila’s targeted covalent drug technology. Under the terms of the agreement, for the selected targets sanofi-aventis will have access to Avila’s proprietary Avilomics™ platform that offers a unique approach to “protein silencing” that cannot be achieved through traditional medicinal chemistry.

Avila has the opportunity to retain the rights to one of the six collaboration programs after the end of the initial three-year collaboration term and sanofi-aventis retains a right of first negotiation for such program should Avila decide to partner that program. Avila will receive up to 40 million U.S. Dollars in upfront and research support payments, and is eligible to receive pre-clinical, clinical & regulatory milestone payments up to 154 million U.S. Dollars per collaboration program if the respective product is approved in the US, Europe and Japan. Avila may also receive staged royalties and commercial milestones on product sales in each of the programs advanced by sanofi-aventis.

About Targeted Covalent Drugs

Covalent drugs are uniquely able to establish a strong and enduring ‘bond’ – exceeding the more temporary ‘binding’ of conventional drugs – to completely shut down the activity of, and silence, a disease-causing protein. Covalent drugs may provide prolonged duration of action through this silencing of the disease target, and have the potential for unique therapeutic benefits because they are targeted and effective against mutations.

About Avila Therapeutics™, Inc.

Avila focuses on design and development of targeted covalent drugs to achieve best-in class outcomes that cannot be achieved through traditional chemistries. This approach is called “protein silencing”. The company’s product pipeline has been built using its proprietary Avilomics™ platform and is currently focused on viral infection, cancer and autoimmune disease. Avila is funded by leading venture capital firms: Abingworth, Advent Venture Partners, Atlas Venture, Novartis Option Fund, and Polaris Venture Partners. For additional information, please visit

About sanofi-aventis Oncology

Sanofi-aventis Oncology is targeting cancer on several fronts in an effort to address unmet medical needs for a broad range of patients. Starting with a deep understanding of the mechanisms by which cancers develop, grow and spread, as well as translating this deep scientific understanding early in the drug discovery process, the company employs innovative approaches to bring the right medicines to the right patients. There are currently more than 10 compounds in development across a broad scientific platform, including targeted, cytotoxic, and antiangiogenic approaches employing both novel chemical entities and monoclonal antibodies. Four compounds are now being investigated in Phase III clinical studies aimed at multiple solid and hematologic tumor types.

About sanofi-aventis

Sanofi-aventis, a leading global pharmaceutical company, discovers, develops and distributes therapeutic solutions to improve the lives of everyone. Sanofi-aventis is listed in Paris (EURONEXT: SAN) and in New York (NYSE: SNY). For more information, please visit


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KEYWORDS:   United States  North America  Massachusetts

INDUSTRY KEYWORDS:   Health  Biotechnology  Clinical Trials  Oncology  Pharmaceutical