Avila Therapeutics and Sanofi-aventis have signed a global discovery agreement to discover targeted covalent drugs for the treatment of cancers.

Under the alliance agreement Sanofi-aventis has obtained a worldwide exclusive licence to develop and commercialise compounds resulting from the discovery collaboration.

As part of the alliance, Sanofi-aventis will work together with Avila to design targeted covalent drugs directed towards six signalling proteins, critical in tumour cells but traditionally very hard to approach.

For the selected targets Sanofi-aventis will have access to Avila’s proprietary Avilomics platform, which offers a unique approach to protein silencing.

Avila has the opportunity to retain the rights to one of the six collaboration programmes after the end of the initial three-year collaboration term.

Avila will receive up to $40m in upfront and research support payments, and is eligible to receive preclinical, clinical and regulatory milestone payments up to $154m per collaboration programme pending approval in the US, Europe and Japan.

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Avila may also receive staged royalties and commercial milestones on product sales in each of the programmes advanced by Sanofi-aventis.