Sanofi puts "open innovation" game plan to work on hearing loss

Anyone looking for an example of how drug development partnerships work now at Sanofi should check out the new development pact it inked with Audion Therapeutics. Its unit charged with finding new drugs to combat the effects of aging will collaborate with Audion on discovering small molecules to treat hearing loss through regenerative medicine. And they'll be relying on technology licensed in from the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in the Eaton-Peabody Laboratory as well as the assistance of another Sanofi unit designated to help move new drugs into the clinic.

It's all part of the global "open innovation" model that Sanofi is relying on to break a long losing streak on the drug development side of the business.

The pharma giant is looking for more pacts covering new treatments for hearing loss, one of several age-related ailments like Alzheimer's and osteoarthritis that's on Sanofi's radar. A spokesperson for Sanofi notes that "we have a number of internal projects, as well as a number of collaborations with academic groups in Europe and the U.S., targeting hearing disorders."

In this case its aging therapeutic strategic unit will work with members of its "early-to-candidate" team to identify new prospects for the clinic. "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., Sanofi's R&D chief.

"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 Rolf Jan Rutten and Helmuth van Es, founders of Amsterdam-based 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."

- here's the press release
- here's the story from Reuters