Lead Pharma has achieved a third milestone under its research collaboration with Sanofi for the development of new therapies to treat autoimmune diseases.

Under the collaboration, the two companies aim to generate small molecules directed against the nuclear hormone receptor ROR gamma (t) for the treatment of a wide range of autoimmune disorders, including common diseases such as psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease.

Lead Pharma chief scientific officer Arthur Oubrie said: “We are delighted to have achieved another milestone in our collaboration, further validating the strength of our drug discovery engine and demonstrating our ability to work successfully with industry leaders like Sanofi.”

ROR gamma (t) is a primary regulator of the cytokine immune pathway, which leads to the differentiation of T-cells to a pro-inflammatory subtype of T helper cells called Th17.

“Lead Pharma specialises in difficult-to-address drug targets and we were attracted to their innovative approach to small molecule drug discovery.”

Sanofi North America chief scientific officer and Immunology Therapeutic Research Area global head Dr Frank Nestle said: “Lead Pharma specialises in difficult-to-address drug targets and we were attracted to their innovative approach to small molecule drug discovery.

“With such rapid progress in our research collaboration, I’m looking forward to many potential applications in autoimmune indications.”

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In February 2015, Lead Pharma and Sanofi entered a research collaboration and licensing agreement to discover, develop and commercialise small molecule therapies intended for ROR gamma (t).

Financial details of the collaboration remain undisclosed.

Lead Pharma focuses on the development of new medicines for the treatment of immunological and oncological indications.