Last week Sanofi-Aventis signed on to a new discovery pact with Germany's Pieris. In one of the latest signs of the Big Pharma's efforts to find more innovative ways to develop therapies with smaller players, Pieris will use its development platform to identify "Anticalins" that can hit two targets specified by Sanofi, which has an option to line up four more targets in the deal.
Pieris' Anticalins are specifically engineered lipocalins, human proteins that can naturally bind, store, and transport a spectrum of molecules. Sanofi is gambling that these Anticalins can bind to its targets and will make for better therapies than some of the antibodies which have taken center stage in the biotech world.
"Our molecules are monovalent as opposed to bi-valent," Pieris CEO Stephen Yoder tells FierceBiotechResearch. By overcoming some of the limitations of antibodies, Pieris and Sanofi believe that the technology can deliver novel therapies that can zero in on their targets, improving efficacy and limiting risk. Yoder joined the nine-year-old biotech early this year with an eye to striking these kinds of pacts.
While Pieris gets only €3.5 million upfront, along with research funding, there's also up to €44.5 million available in development and commercial milestones for each successful collaboration in the deal. And Yoder says he has one or two more pacts just like this in the works.
- here's the Pieris release for more info