Paris, France and San Francisco – March 16, 2016 – Sanofi and DiCE Molecules, a newly-launched, privately held company developing a next generation approach to small molecule drug discovery, today announced a five-year global collaboration to discover potential new therapeutics for up to 12 targets that encompass all disease areas of strategic interest to Sanofi. The collaboration builds upon DiCE’s unique technology platform, which leverages directed evolution to select and optimize low molecular weight compounds against any target. The platform’s capabilities include the potential to unlock protein-protein interfaces that were previously unreachable for oral therapies.
The collaboration is a part of Sanofi’s Sunrise Initiative, a strategic partnership model that seeks to invest in early stage transformative opportunities that align with Sanofi’s expert development and commercialization abilities. A joint steering committee comprised of Sanofi and DiCE representatives will oversee the initiative.
“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,” said Kevin Judice, President and Chief Executive Officer of DiCE. “Our platform is uniquely positioned to overcome these historical challenges and this partnership with Sanofi reinforces the potential of our technology. DiCE’s self-financing business model and distinctive partnership approach will allow us to focus solely on advancing our development programs. We are delighted to be collaborating with Sanofi and its innovation-focused team within the Sunrise Initiative.”
The partnership between Sanofi and DiCE represents a unique R&D commitment to small molecule discovery. DiCE’s directed chemical evolution platform is anticipated to shorten drug development timelines through the rapid and efficient discovery of a greater breadth of molecules for each target in the collaboration.
The collaboration encompasses up to 12 discrete targets over the five-year period and provides funding in excess of $50 million in equity, upfront, target exclusivity, technology access fees, and research services, along with up to $184 million in research, clinical and regulatory milestone payments per target, and royalty payments based on any future annual net sales of each compound developed by Sanofi.
“We are pleased to initiate this collaboration with DiCE and its unique technology platform, which brings the power of selection and enrichment to small molecule discovery,” said Dr. Kathy Bowdish, Head of Sunrise, Sanofi. “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. This initiative will allow our teams to combine their wealth of knowledge in drug discovery and further strengthens Sanofi’s commitment to open innovation.”
The DiCE Difference
DiCE’s technology selects and optimizes drug-like ligands to any given target, beginning with libraries containing billions of individual molecules. Unique among currently available options, DiCE’s technology restores the libraries to their original ligand concentration after each round of screening, revealing the full landscape of binding molecules and allowing them to easily be selected for enhanced potency, selectivity, and drug-like properties through testing with proprietary assays. This novel approach may address long-standing chemistry issues and would enable monoclonal antibodies to be replaced by orally administered medicines.
DiCE’s core technology was invented by Stanford Professor Pehr Harbury, Ph.D., a recipient of the Macarthur “Genius” Award and the NIH Pioneer award. In addition to Dr. Harbury, the founding team includes John Bedbrook, Ph.D., a seasoned entrepreneur in the agricultural biotechnology space who serves as Founder and Chairman of the DiCE Board of Directors; Kevin Judice, Ph.D., who while in the lab discovered the marketed drug Telavancin and has held various leadership roles at Genentech, Theravance, Achaogen, and Cidara prior to joining DiCE as Founder and Chief Executive Officer; and Phil Patten, Ph.D., an internationally recognized expert in the field of directed evolution who held various scientific roles at Maxygen, Achaogen, and DuPont, prior to joining DiCE as Founder and Chief Scientific Officer.