Sanofi and DiCE Molecules have signed a research collaboration agreement to discover new drugs that may potentially replace injections to treat several diseases.
DiCE is a privately-held startup, which focuses on the development of next-generation methods to small molecule drug discovery.
The collaboration will see Sanofi pay an initial $50m to access DiCE’s technology and take an equity stake in the company.
DiCE’s technology platform selects and optimizes low molecular weight compounds against targets to address chemistry issues and allow monoclonal antibodies to be replaced by orally administered medicines.
The companies will work on 12 drug targets, with the French drugmaker contributing up to $184m per target in research, clinical and regulatory milestone payments.
Sanofi will also pay DiCE royalties on sales after successful development of any compounds.
The collaboration is a part of Sanofi’s Sunrise Initiative, which intends to invest in early-stage drug opportunities through partnerships.
Sanofi head of Sunrise Kathy Bowdish said: “We hope this partnership will help deliver essential therapies against currently intractable disease targets, and help patients who otherwise have been unable to receive treatments outside of the inpatient setting.”
DiCE Molecules president and CEO Kevin Judice said: “In the past, targeting protein-protein interfaces with small molecules was not thought possible in a generalizable fashion, especially in the development of orally bioavailable drugs.
“Our platform is uniquely positioned to overcome these historical challenges and this partnership with Sanofi reinforces the potential of our technology.”