Sanofi Tackles Diabetes

French drugmaker Sanofi recently reported on two developments in diabetes drug development: results of a successful clinical trial of a Sanofi drug combined with another drug to lower hemoglobin A1c levels and a new partnership that intends to create a stem cell–based drug to treat diabetes.

Sanofi’s drug insulin glargine (Lantus) taken in combination with lixisenatide (Lyxumia, Zealand Pharma, Copenhagen) successfully lowered hemoglobin levels in patients with type 2 diabetes compared with either drug administered alone. The combination drug, called LixiL, is injectable.

According to Zealand, a global licensing agreement is in place with Sanofi that covers lixisenatide and any combination products that include lixisenatide, and specifies that Sanofi is responsible for all development and commercialization including the financing.

Sanofi is also teaming up with German biotech firm Evotec to develop stem cell–based treatments for diabetes, under a deal that could earn Evotec more than €300 million ($327 million), Reuters reported in early August.

Philip Larsen, MD, PhD, Sanofi’s global head of diabetes research and translational science, noted: “Combining Sanofi’s and Evotec’s beta cell and stem cell expertise in drug discovery and development will enable optimal exploitation of the potential of stem cell–derived human beta cells for therapy and drug screening in diabetes.”

Cord Dohrmann, MD, chief scientific officer of Evotec, said that the use of human stem cells in drug discovery and development is rising and “will increasingly shift the landscape from symptomatic treatments to disease-modifying therapies also in diabetes.”

Under the agreement, Evotec will receive different tiers of payments depending on the firm’s success in meeting targets set for development, regulatory. and commercialization purposes, Reuters noted.