Sanofi and Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, a European organization for applied research, created a natural product center of excellence to accelerate the discovery and development of new therapies to treat infectious diseases. Under the agreement, Sanofi and Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME will collaborate to identify and optimize novel, naturally occurring chemical or biological compounds, mainly in the field of infectious diseases.
Penicillin, for example, is just one of a number of antibiotics derived from natural products. The approach may also be extended to other indications such as diabetes, pain, and rare diseases, where natural-product derived substances have proven to play an important role in treatment and disease prevention. Sanofi will share its strain collection, one of the world’s largest, consisting of over a hundred thousand different microorganisms, with Fraunhofer, and in addition is bringing its knowledge in anti-infective research.
“There is a great medical need in fighting infectious diseases globally. This is critical given the rise of antibiotic resistance worldwide especially in the hospital setting with increasingly frequent serious, often life-threatening infections, where few advances have been made in the recent years,” said Elias Zerhouni, president, Sanofi Global R&D. “This cooperation with Fraunhofer is unique, as internal and external scientists will work together as one team on common projects, in shared labs to acquire new knowledge with the objective to bring new medicines to patients suffering from infectious diseases.”
The joint team of scientists will be led by Peter Hammann, Sanofi R&D, head of External Innovation of the Infectious Diseases Unit, in close coordination with Andreas Vilcinskas, division director Fraunhofer IME. The team will work together on analyzing the genetic make-up of the strains, cultivating them under various conditions, stimulating them to produce active substances, and investigating their effects. The goal is to identify novel active compounds to accelerate the discovery and development of new antibiotics.