Press Release

Institut Pasteur Korea-Sanofi Collaboration Generates Hope for the Identification of New Antibiotics

A collection of proprietary compounds from Sanofi’s compound library will be strategically combined with the advanced high throughput screening technology of IP-K to address the emerging need for novel anti-bacterial drugs -

Annually, about 1.7 million cases with 99,000 deaths and 5 million cases with 135,000 deaths are estimated to be associated with nosocomial infections in the US and Europe, respectively. Nosocomial infection, so called, “Hospital-Acquired Infection (HAI)” is also a major public health problem in Korea. According to the reports published by Korean Nosocomial Infections Surveillance system, approximately 3,500 cases of HAI occur per year in intense care units of 57 major hospitals around Korea.

Sanofi-Aventis Research & Development (hereinafter Sanofi), the research-based unit of the leading healthcare company, Sanofi, and Institute Pasteur Korea (hereinafter IP-K), an innovative translational research institute, have agreed to join forces in the battle against hospital-acquired infections by collaborating on the identification of anti-bacterial compounds for the treatment of gram negative bacterial infections. Gram negative bacteria are reported to be responsible for over 30% of hospital-acquired infections, mainly pneumonia.

For the next two years, IP-K and Sanofi will focus on the early stage of antibiotic drug discovery research where Sanofi will provide approximately 900,000 compounds from its proprietary compound library for high throughput testing by IP-K in an artificial lung sputum assay, which it has developed. Highly experienced Sanofi anti-bacterial experts in a partnership with IP-K skilled biologists and technology experts will identify and validate compounds with potential for optimization. Any validated hit compounds will be open for further joint progression under a separate research collaboration agreement.

Finding a new drug active against gram negative bacterial infections can be challenging because gram negative bacteria are highly efficient in acquisition of antibiotic resistance, making the bacteria multi-drug resistant “Superbugs”. Preventing initial and subsequent infections will continue to become a major health need for everyone if there is not soon a breakthrough in current treatment options.

“A strong need for novel and effective anti-bacterial drug is emerging worldwide.” said Dr. Kevin Pethe, CEO of Institut Pasteur Korea, and continued, “To accomplish the shared goal of addressing unmet medical needs and creating value for patients, Sanofi and IP-K will continue to complement one another through open innovation and a joint risk sharing partnership.”

Sanofi and IP-K have been working together since 2009 but this collaboration is the first research program to fall under the Master Research Agreement concluded on April, 5, 2013 with Sanofi Aventis Korea. Since 2011, Sanofi and IP-K have been jointly developing new potential therapies for hepatitis B; both projects in this area are making steady progress.

Funded by the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning, and Gyeonggi Provence, IP-K established itself as a translational research institute in 2004 that has systematically developed innovative technological platforms that can be utilized in conjunction with innovative cellular assays. IP-K’s novel technology has been instrumental in various global pharmaceutical collaborations for fast and cost-effective drug discovery research with an increased probability of identifying first-in-class drug candidates.