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GEN News Highlights : Dec 20, 2010

Avila Earns $40M Up Front from sanofi-aventis in Protein Silencing Cancer Partnership

Company will use Avilomics platform to develop drugs against otherwise intractable targets.

Sanofi-aventis is paying Avila Therapeutics $40 million up front as part of an alliance to develop targeted covalent drugs against cancer cell signaling proteins. The partnership will involve the use of Avila’s Avilomics™ protein-silencing platform to develop candidates against targets the firms say would be hard to address using traditional medicinal chemistry approaches.

Under terms of the deal sanofi-aventis has exclusive worldwide rights to develop and commercialize resulting compounds, although Avila will have an option to retain the rights to one of the six collaboration programs after the end of the initial three-year collaboration term. If the firm decides to partner out its retained project, sanofi-aventis will have the first right of negotiation. In addition to its up-front payment Avila could potentially receive $154 million in development and regulatory milestones per program if approval is achieved in the U.S., Europe, and Japan. The firm will also receive staged royalties and commercialization milestones.

Avila is using Avilomics to develop small molecule covalent drugs capable of silencing challenging disease targets in fields including cancer, autoimmune diseases, and hepatitis.