Paris-based Sanofi has entered into a two-year research collaboration with biopharmaceutical company Audion Therapeutics to develop potential treatments for hearing loss through the optimization of small molecules by using a regenerative medicine approach.
This collaborative research will utilize technology developed at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in the Eaton-Peabody Laboratory, one of the world's largest basic research facilities dedicated to the study of hearing and deafness, by investigator and Audion co-founder Dr. Albert Edge, who has expertise in stem cells and inner ear biology. Audion, based in Amsterdam, licensed Dr. Edge’s technology from Mass Eye and Ear. Sanofi has an option to license technology rights from Audion related to research conducted under the collaboration.
“We are very excited about this collaboration with Sanofi that validates our thinking around developing small molecule regenerative drugs for the treatment of hearing loss,” said RolfJan Rutten and Helmuth van Es, founders of Audion Therapeutics. “Sanofi’s interest in the hearing loss field, plus its vast experience and infrastructure in small-molecule drug discovery, make them the perfect partner to move this program forward as diligently as possible.”
"Our new relationship with Audion demonstrates our commitment to work with partners on conditions with unmet and growing medical needs, such as hearing loss,” said Elias Zerhouni, M.D., president of global R&D at Sanofi. “This collaboration is a multi-disciplinary approach with our internal Aging Therapeutic Strategic Unit and our Early-to-Candidate Unit working together to advance novel therapies in the field of otolaryngology using the most advanced technologies available to study cochlear biology.”
As part of Sanofi's new R&D model, five Therapeutic Strategic Units (TSUs) were created with a focus on major patho-physiologies, pressing public health needs or major geographic areas: Aging, Fibrosis & Wound Repair, Immuno-Inflammation, Infectious Diseases and the Asia-Pacific Unit. The Aging Unit aims to treat age-related diseases globally, to provide practical integrated healthcare solutions for the elderly as well as to sustain their functional well-being. The Early-to-Candidate Unit’s core mission is to adopt higher risk, innovative and validated concepts and early-stage leads either from its own internal research or through strategic partnerships with academics and biotechnology companies.