Sanofi-aventis and Aviesan are strengthening their partnership by signing a strategic research partnership agreement with the Marseille-Luminy Immunology Center




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First research partnership signed under the Aviesan - sanofi-aventis agreement

Close collaboration between scientists from the Marseille-Luminy Immunology Center (CIML), sanofi-aventis and sanofi-pasteur in the field of natural immunity and inflammation

Paris, France - December 10, 2010 - Aviesan, Sanofi-Aventis and the CIML have today announced the signature of a specific research partnership agreement over three years with a five-year ambition under the partnership protocol signed in February 2010 with the French National Alliance for Life and Health Sciences, Aviesan. Scientists from the CIML, the "Immuno-inflammation" unit of sanofi-aventis and sanofi-pasteur will work on three programs concerning the immunology of inflammatory diseases of the intestine and skin. The opportunity to capitalize on the expertise of everyone with two complementary objectives in mind: progress knowledge on natural immunity and on inflammation, thereby identifying new therapeutic pathways for the patient.

"The signature of a major partnership with the CIML, an international research center of excellence in immunology, is a unique opportunity to explore together the characteristics of certain immune cells – essential in the defense of the body", highlighted Dr. Marc Cluzel, M.D., Ph.D., Executive Vice-President, Research and Development, of sanofi-aventis. "This work is a prerequisite to the development of new treatments for inflammatory diseases and will thus enable us to find solutions for unmet needs of patients in this field".

"This partnership is based on a fundamentally scientific ambition aimed at drawing up the first dynamic map of these cell networks that have yet to be explored in detail, in normal and pathological situations in both humans and mice" said Professor Eric Vivier, Director of the CIML. "Our partnership is therefore being carried out far upstream in the pathway of scientific discovery, which is also what makes it unique. The end objective of this program is nevertheless the paving of innovative therapeutic pathways".

Innovating together to speed up the development of new therapies

Sanofi-aventis has undertaken a policy of strategic partnership with academic teams of excellence worldwide. In France, this commitment has particularly materialized through the signature of a partnership protocol with Aviesan in February 2010.

"We are delighted with the progress made since this partnership was signed with sanofi-aventis. The high-level strategic and operational committees steering this framework agreement have worked without letup to swiftly crystallize the commitments made last February" said Prof. André Syrota, President of Aviesan. "Through this initial research agreement signed with the CIML and those that will follow, it will be possible to heighten the international visibility of French academic research teams".

Complementary expertise

Jointly supervised by researchers from the CIML, sanofi-aventis and sanofi-pasteur, this major partnership undertaking draws on the expertise and experimental scientific tools of both partners.

The CIML scientists are renowned for their skills encompassing all levels of immunology: from the molecule to the system, via analyses of the different cell populations and animal models of inflammatory diseases. The CIML researchers will also work with a local hospital network so as to confirm their hypotheses in humans.

The sanofi-aventis teams, meanwhile, will contribute their know-how of pharmacology and an industrial vision taking close account of clinicians' and their patients' needs, cutting-edge bioinformatic support, biological tissue collections and lastly in vitro and in vivo models of inflammatory diseases.

Everything has been designed to foster synergies between these high-level researchers. A joint IT platform will facilitate the exchanges and transfer of knowledge. Above all though, sanofi-aventis researchers will gather over several months at the CIML to support research programs and, vice versa, some academics will join sanofi-aventis teams in France and the US.

An ambitious scientific program

Together, the teams have defined the scientific objectives to be met. They will endeavor to explore the characteristics of natural immunity cells, at the level of two essential barriers to the body's defense against attack: the skin and intestine. For while these cells have been known for several years now for their unique properties - an exceptional ability to control stressed or infected cells and to adjust the immune response - their characterization is still basic, particularly in these areas.

By mapping these populations in normal and pathological situations through the research program, researchers hope to decipher inflammation mechanisms further upstream, and thus discover new therapeutic pathways - especially for such incapacitating diseases as psoriasis, Crohn's disease and hemorrhagic rectocolitis.

About Aviesan - French National Alliance for Life and Health Sciences

The French National Alliance for Life and Health Sciences (Aviesan) comprises the CEA (French Atomic Energy Commission), CNRS (French National Center for Scientific Research), INRA (French National Institute for Agricultural Research), INRIA (French National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Control), Inserm (French National Institute of Health and Medical Research), Institut Pasteur, IRD (French Research Institute for Development), CPU (French Conference of University Chancellors) and French Conference of CEOs of Teaching and Regional Hospitals. Aviesan seeks to develop a continuum at the very highest level in every branch of life and health science research, ranging from fundamental research to its application. Aviesan is organized into 10 Thematic Multi-Organization Institutes - functional entities for coordinating the research - which are particularly tasked with drawing up a review of French research per main theme.

About Sanofi-aventis

Sanofi-aventis is a world leader in the pharmaceutical industry which researches, develops and disseminates therapeutic solutions for improving all of our lives. The Group is security listed on the Paris Bourse (EURONEXT PARIS: SAN) and New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: SNY). For more information, see the website:

Sanofi-pasteur, the vaccine division of the sanofi-aventis group, is a world leader with the most extensive range of vaccines against 20 infectious diseases. It is currently the largest company entirely given over to vaccines, which invests more than one million euros a day in research and development. For more information, see the website:

About the CIML - Marseille-Luminy Immunology Center

Founded in 1976, the Marseille-Luminy Immunology Center is now a world-renowned research institute in the discipline. The CIML is also an avant-garde center in terms of organization as, from the outset, it has developed its own uses and practices for fostering creativity and risk-taking among its researchers.

From the worm to humans, from molecules to the whole body, from physiology to diseases, the CIML tackles all fields of contemporary immunology on countless models and levels: the genesis of different cell populations, their differentiation and activation methods, their implications in cancer, infectious and inflammatory diseases and the mechanisms of cell death.

Based in Marseilles, the CIML is a Mixed Research Unit of the CNRS, Inserm and Université de la Méditerranée which had a 240-strong workforce as at December 10, 2010.

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