Sanofi has agreed to transfer its infectious disease unit, and most of its research portfolio and initiatives, to Evotec for more than €60 million (nearly $70 million), in a deal that Evotec said today will more than double its workforce in the indication, and will transform it into a leading developer of anti-infective treatments.

Evotec said it will license from Sanofi “more than 10” infectious disease R&D assets, comprising the majority of the pharma giant’s infectious disease research portfolio and initiatives.

Through that deal, Evotec added, it will accelerate development of its infectious disease research pipeline and launch new R&D initiatives in anti-infectives through open collaborations with other pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, foundations, academia, and government agencies.

Evotec said its initial focus areas will be on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and superbug infections, tuberculosis and malaria, as well as the creation of novel antiviral therapies with new mechanisms of action. 

The agreement caps more than three months of exclusive talks between Evotec and Sanofi that were first disclosed by the companies on March 8.

Evotec said Sanofi agreed to pay €60 million (nearly $70 million) upfront, as well as undisclosed “significant long-term funding to ensure the progression of the highly innovative anti-infectives portfolio.”

Anti-infectives is one of Evotec’s five areas of therapeutic focus; the other four are immunology and inflammation, metabolic diseases and complications, neurosciences, and oncology.

In anti-infectives, Evotec says, its offerings include:

  • Its EvostrAIn™ platform, consisting of a range of geographically diverse human pathogenic bacteria and fungi pathogens designed to cover isolates susceptible and resistant to current antimicrobial drugs;
  • A range of in vitro offerings for screening, compound profiling, and method of action determination;
  • A range of established in vivo models encompassing bacterial, fungal, viral, and parasitic infections, along with the development of customized and custom models;
  • Expertise with multiple classes of anti-infective agents, including small molecules, natural products, peptides, antibodies, other biologics, and vaccines.

Transferring 100 Employees

Sanofi also agreed to transfer 100 of its global drug discovery and development employees to Evotec, with Evotec agreeing in return to adhere to specific “long-term” commitments of employment, including that it will continue to operate in Lyon, France, in order to leverage the region’s scientific and medical expertise in infectious diseases.

“With the signing of this transaction, Evotec will have created the highest qualified translational footprint in infectious disease research globally with approximately 180 scientists,” Evotec CEO Werner Lanthaler, M.D., Ph.D., said in a statement. “Together we are well-positioned to become the global drug discovery and development partner of choice in this important therapeutic category. We invite more companies, academic institutions, governments, and foundations from around the world to help us advance new novel anti-infectives toward the market.”

Evotec said Sanofi will retain option rights on the development, manufacturing, and commercialization of anti-infective treatments resulting from the licensed assets.

The deal is set to be closed in coming weeks, Evotec added, and is subject to customary approvals and conditions, including approval by regulatory authorities in France.

Sanofi and Evotec have come to terms on transfers of operations previously. In March 2015, Evotec disclosed that Sanofi agreed to pay it up to €250 million ($290 million) toward a five-year, minimum-guaranteed strategic alliance focused on developing multiple products.

In return Evotec agreed to acquire Sanofi's scientific operations in Toulouse, France, a site Sanofi tried to shut down in 2012 as part of a series of cuts announced a year earlier by then-CEO Christopher Viehbacher, Sanofi did not follow through with the Toulouse shutdown, after opposition emerged from then-French President Francois Hollande, who won election in May 2012.

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