Columbia University, Sanofi-aventis collaborate to develop innovative diabetes medicines

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Sanofi-aventis (EURONEXT: SAN and NYSE: SNY) announced today a research collaboration with Columbia University Medical Center for the development of innovative diabetes medicines.  This three-year research collaboration, with the laboratory of Dr. Gerard Karsenty, will investigate the role of the osteoblast-secreted peptide, osteocalcin, in diabetes management.

In a landmark paper published in the research journal Cell in 2007, Dr. Karsenty, the Paul A. Marks Professor and Chair of the Department of Genetics and Development at Columbia University, and colleagues revealed that bone-forming cells called osteoblasts produce osteocalcin, a hormone that influences blood sugar levels and fat deposition.  These findings provided the first in vivo evidence of endocrine regulation of energy metabolism by the skeleton and opened the door for an entirely new area of exploration for novel pathways, targets and therapies directed toward metabolic disorders, including diabetes.

"We have spent more than a decade uncovering the biology of osteocalcin," said Dr. Karsenty, "so we are delighted to have sanofi-aventis as a collaborating partner to help us continue this research."

The collaboration will benefit from the extensive biological expertise of Dr. Karsenty and his team around osteocalcin and its role in metabolic regulation, while leveraging sanofi-aventis' long and successful experience with drug discovery and development.

"Sanofi-aventis strives to deliver innovative and integrated patient-focused solutions for people living with diabetes, and this collaboration with Columbia University is an opportunity to collaborate with leading scientists on a new approach to diabetes management," explained Dr. Paul Chew, Senior Vice President, U.S. Chief Science Officer and Chief Medical Officer, sanofi-aventis U.S.  "Sanofi-aventis is excited to work with Dr. Karsenty and his team to help translate their findings into potential new therapies that benefit patients."  

Under the collaboration, sanofi-aventis will sponsor research in Dr. Karsenty's laboratory and has an option to license and develop existing patents and results that may arise from the research into potential diabetes treatments.  Financial terms of this agreement were not disclosed.

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