BioWorld International Correspondent

PARIS - The French pharmaceutical company Sanofi-Synthélabo purchased €20 million worth of new shares in the Paris-based biotechnology company Immuno-Designed Molecules SA, paying a higher price than the value put on IDM's stock in its last funding round in November 2000.

The investment took place under the terms of the co-development agreement concluded between the companies in January, as part of which Sanofi-Synthélabo undertook to invest a total of €30 million in IDM. (See BioWorld International, Jan. 23, 2002.)

To fulfill its commitment, Sanofi-Synthélabo, of Paris, will invest a further €10 million in IDM on the occasion of the latter's next funding operation, whether it be another private financing or an IPO. Before this latest operation, IDM had raised a total of €67 million in successive funding rounds, the last of which netted it €48.9 million from investors in Israel, the United States and Europe in November 2000.

Under its 10-year agreement with IDM, Sanofi-Synthélabo has first right of refusal on up to 20 cell drugs from IDM's portfolio of cellular immunotherapies and therapeutic vaccines for cancer. It can select a maximum of 10 new IDM products during the first five years, and then two more each year for a further five years.

The deal could be worth as much as €616 million to IDM in the form of up-front payments and milestones if Sanofi-Synthélabo develops and commercializes the maximum number of products, not including the revenues IDM could earn from manufacturing them. Sanofi-Synthélabo will finance the clinical development of the products it selects, up to and including regulatory filings, and will have exclusive worldwide rights to commercialize them.

The company selected its first IDM product, Uvidem, a therapeutic vaccine for the treatment of melanoma, in February, and IDM's communications manager, Nadine Sciacca, told BioWorld International that the companies are in discussions for the selection of a second product by Sanofi-Synthélabo. A Phase II clinical trial of Uvidem in metastatic melanoma got under way in November in a number of centers in France, Germany and Australia.