Sanofi agreed to contribute $2.2 billion to work with Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. on therapies that harness the immune system to fight cancer.
Sanofi will give Regeneron an upfront payment of $640 million to work on at least four experimental treatments, including one that has entered early-stage trials. Regeneron will get an additional $375 million from Sanofi if it meets certain sales goals. Sanofi will also invest $1.15 billion in the research, while Regeneron will add $485 million.
The move is a bet on an increasingly crowded field of research into tailoring the body’s defenses to attack cancer. Regeneron’s experimental drug, now in early-stage trials, targets a protein known as PD-1, which restrict the immune system’s ability to fight tumors. Other large pharmaceutical companies are also pursuing drugs with that approach, including Merck & Co., Roche Holding AG, AstraZeneca Plc and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.
Sanofi, Regeneron’s largest shareholder, has worked with the Tarrytown, New York-based biotechnology company to develop other drugs, including a treatment for cholesterol that won U.S. regulatory approval last week. The Paris-based drugmaker has invested in immune-targeting therapies before, including with its 4.6 percent stake in Immune Design Corp.