French pharmaceutical company Sanofi and Italian biotech firm Axxam have entered a new research collaboration in the field of neurodegenerative disorders.

The partnership will focus on further optimising a number of lead series of small molecules targeted against a wide range of central nervous system (CNS) disorders.

The current collaboration will help validate Axxam's platform to produce high-quality leads for small molecule drug discovery.

Through a high throughput screen (HTS) of the Axxam small molecule screening library, a range of tractable hit series of small molecules were generated under a programme initiated at Axxam.

Subsequent multi-parameter optimisation recognised potent and selective molecules with high CNS exposures and demonstrated effective results in disease-relevant pharmacology models.

"We are excited to open this latest chapter of our interactions with Sanofi."

After completing an initial in-house evaluation phase, the two companies will continue the programme under a joint research agreement, with the work on the project slated to be carried out at their research facilities.

If successful, Sanofi will have an option to enter a subsequent licensing agreement based on the research.

Axxam discovery research director Dr Russell Thomas said: “We are excited to open this latest chapter of our interactions with Sanofi.

“During the initial evaluation of our compounds in their laboratories we were impressed by the deep understanding of the target and its potential in addressing a broad range of neurodegenerative disorders with significant unmet medical needs.”

A partial funding of Axxam's prior work on the current programme is provided by the Alzheimer's Drug Discovery Foundation.