PARIS and GENEVA, June 2, 2011 /PRNewswire/ --

Sanofi and Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) announced today a three-year research collaboration agreement for the research of new treatments for nine neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), listed by the World Health Organization (WHO) for which new, adapted, and efficient tools are urgently needed to treat patients in endemic countries. This agreement is built upon a history of successful collaboration between Sanofi and DNDi.

In the framework of this agreement, Sanofi will initially bring molecules from its libraries into the partnership, while DNDi and Sanofi collaborate in research activities on innovative molecular scaffolds. The core of the agreement lies in the innovative management of intellectual property generated through the collaboration. The rights to results produced by this partnership will be co-owned by Sanofi and DNDi. The partners will facilitate publication of the results to ensure access to the wider community of researchers focusing on NTDs. The public sector will benefit from the drugs developed through this agreement under the best possible conditions to ease access for patients in all endemic countries, irrespective of their level of economic development.

"Sanofi is committed to bringing therapeutic solutions to those most affected and exposed to neglected tropical diseases (NTDs)," said Dr. Elias Zerhouni, President, Global Research & Development, Sanofi. "In this new research collaboration with DNDi, we have taken a firm step towards greater flexibility in the sharing of knowledge to produce new medicines."

"This agreement is a major milestone in our access to molecules that can help combat neglected diseases," said Dr. Bernard Pécoul, Executive Director of DNDi. "We believe that this level of private-sector involvement in open-research collaboration to deliver appropriate medicines as public goods is vital to addressing the needs of the most vulnerable populations of the world. The agreement allows DNDi to continue making science work more efficiently for the patients who need it most. We encourage and commend such engagement."

Neglected Tropical Diseases covered by the agreement

This agreement covers nine neglected tropical diseases (NTDs): kinetoplastid diseases (leishmaniass, Chagas disease, and human African trypanosomiasis), helminth infections (lymphatic filariasis, onchocerciasis, and soil-transmitted helminthiasis), and dracunculiasis, fascioliasis, and schistosomiasis.

Sanofi's involvement in neglected disease

Sanofi has been involved in the field of NTDs since the 1940s, through research programmes and manufacturing of treatments for sleeping sickness and leishmaniasis. In 2001, Sanofi entered into a partnership agreement with WHO to fight sleeping sickness. In 2006, this partnership was expanded to include leishmaniass, Buruli ulcer, and Chagas disease and renewed for a further 5 years in 2011. To improve existing drugs and anticipate tomorrow's challenges, Sanofi created in 2010, within its Research & Development organization, a Therapeutic Strategic Unit dedicated to new anti-infectives. Its scope includes multiresistant bacterial infections as well as some NTDs.