Serving up with Servier
November 2011
by Kelsey Kaustinen  |  Email the author


PARIS—French pharmaceutical company Servier and Mechelen, Belgium-based Galapagos NV recently announced the beginning of a multi-year strategic alliance between their two companies, focused on the joint discovery and development of novel small molecule therapies for cancer. Galapagos will be responsible for the discovery and development of new candidate drugs against a combination of Galapagos and Servier targets in oncology.  
"Galapagos continues to deliver the innovation that research-based pharma companies are seeking to complement their pipelines. In this new alliance, Servier and Galapagos combine both their oncology targets and their capabilities in cancer drug discovery," Onno van de Stolpe, CEO of Galapagos, said in a press release. "Similar to our osteoarthritis alliance with Servier, Galapagos retains the U.S. rights, which represents a large potential, considering the unmet medical need in cancer."  
Per the terms of the agreement, Servier will pay research access payments to Galapagos of $2.77 million. Galapagos also stands to receive discovery, development, regulatory and other milestone payments that could total $360.48 million, as well as royalties based on commercialization of products by Servier. Servier has the exclusive option to license each small-molecule program after Galapagos completes preclinical development, and if that option is exercised, Servier will assume responsibility for clinical development, registration and commercialization. Galapagos retains exclusive rights for clinical development, registration and commercialization within the United States, and Servier will commercialize the drugs worldwide.  
This will be the second partnership between Servier and Galapagos. Their first alliance was in osteoarthritis and was established in July 2010 with a similar format to their oncology alliance, except that the compounds in the osteoarthritis alliance come solely from Galapagos. According to Elizabeth Goodwin, director of investor relations for Galapagos, the osteoarthritis alliance "has progressed nicely," and in February of this year, Galapagos announced in a press release that it had reached milestones in the alliance that resulted in payments in 2010 revenue that totaled $5.5 million, bringing the total as of February to $15.25 million in payments from Servier.  
"Based on the progress made already in our osteoarthritis collaboration with Galapagos, we are convinced of Galapagos' ability to deliver new cancer drugs based on novel targets," Emmanuel Canet, head of research and development at Servier, said in a press release. "This alliance complements our very innovative cancer pipeline and is in line with Servier's commitment to develop new treatments for sufferers of uncured diseases."  
"Galapagos' novel modes of action found using functional readouts in human primary cells, combined with Galapagos' efficient drug discovery expertise and Servier's medical expertise, all work together to make the alliances work very well," says Goodwin.  
Specific cancer types or compounds that the alliance will focus on were not disclosed, though Pascal Touchon, director of scientific cooperation and business development for Servier, says the two companies have a "clear intent to concentrate on truly unsatisfied medical needs." The companies' experience in their osteoarthritis alliance "has shown us that both teams are working very well and efficiently together," he adds.
"Galapagos is very effective in finding novel targets for various diseases, including cancer, and then they have a superb and very efficient organization to discover and develop drug candidate till the IND," says Touchon. "In oncology, we will also bring to the partnership our knowledge of diseases mechanisms, some novel targets coming from Servier state-of-the-art research and our knowledge of animal models and translational medicine. Then we will take care of the clinical development for which we have a clear expertise and adapted means."

Servier and Hybrigenics partner on DUBs  
PARIS—Servier also announced last month a license and research collaboration with Hybrigenics, a French biopharmaceutical company, in the field of deubiquitinating enzymes (DUBs) applied to oncology, neurology, psychiatry, rheumatology, ophthalmology, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.  
Hybrigenics will identify and validate new targets among DUBs in these therapeutic areas. Hybrigenics will also screen potential therapeutic agents able to modulate four undisclosed targets, already chosen as exclusive DUBs of interest under the collaboration. Servier will provide the compounds to be screened, develop the selected compounds and commercialize the approved drugs. Hybrigenics' activities under this collaboration may also lead to the discovery of companion diagnostics, potentially needed for such therapeutic drugs.
Hybrigenics will receive $5.5 million over three years to identify new deubiquitinating enzymes and screen their inhibitors, and is further eligible to receive $13 million in success-based milestone payments for each target successfully leading to registration of a new drug, and to royalties on sales of companion diagnostic kits.
Code: E111108

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