BioWorld International Correspondent

PARIS Sanofi-Synthélabo SA already selected for development the first cell drug for cancer from the co-development agreement signed last month with Immuno-Designed Molecules SA (IDM).

Under the 10-year agreement, Sanofi-Synthélabo, of Paris, had two months in which to make an initial selection from the six products four cellular immunotherapies and two therapeutic vaccines that IDM currently has in clinical development. It subsequently will be able to choose a maximum of 10 new IDM products during the first five years, and then two more each year for a further five years. (See BioWorld International, Jan. 23, 2002.)

Paris-based IDM is specialized in the development of cellular immunotherapies and therapeutic vaccines for cancer, and the product chosen by Sanofi is a vaccine for melanoma, known as IDD-3. It already has completed a successful Phase IIa trial.

Explaining its choice, Sanofi pointed out that there is a “marked lack of suitable treatments” for melanoma, that there are “encouraging prospects” of developing a successful immunotherapy for this form of cancer, that the results of the Phase IIa trial were “very promising,” and that IDD-3 is a therapeutic vaccine based on dendritic cells using IL-13, a substance discovered by Sanofi-Synthélabo researchers that was the basis for the original research collaboration concluded between IDM and Sanofi in 1999.

In effect, IDD-3 is composed of dendritophages (dendritic cells derived from the patient’s white blood corpuscles) into which specific tumor antigens derived from a melanoma cell line are introduced in vitro.

The selection of this first cell drug will trigger the first milestone payable by Sanofi-Synthélabo, which also will reimburse IDM the clinical development costs it has incurred for the product to date. Sanofi-Synthélabo will finance the vaccine’s further clinical development. The entire agreement could be worth as much as EUR616 million (US$545 million) to IDM if Sanofi-Synthélabo develops and commercializes the maximum number of products it is entitled to, not counting the revenues and profits IDM could earn from manufacturing products for the market.