Sanofi-Aventis and Micromet have announced a global collaboration and license agreement to develop BiTE, a new antibody that will activate patients’ T cells to seek out and destroy cancer cells.

Under this agreement, Micromet will be responsible for the discovery, research and development of the BiTE antibody, including Phase I trials. Sanofi-Aventis will then be responsible for further development as well as for worldwide commercialisation.

Sanofi-Aventis senior vice-president of R&D Marc Cluzel said that Micromet’s BiTE antibodies represent a promising new approach to treating cancer.

“We believe BiTE antibodies have the potential to significantly expand the treatment options that we can offer to cancer patients in the future,” Cluzel said.

Sanofi-Aventis will pay Micromet an upfront cash payment of €8m following signature of the agreement. Micromet will then also be eligible for development and regulatory milestone payments of up to €162m.

This also includes royalties on worldwide product sales and the company will also receive additional performance-based sales milestones of up to €150m.

BiTE antibodies are designed to direct the body’s cytotoxic, or cell-destroying, T cells against tumour cells by binding T cells to tumour cells, ultimately inducing a self-destruction process in the tumour cells referred to as apoptosis, or programmed cell death.